Review

Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

“It didn’t matter how many people were in the house. You didn’t leave the goddamn door.”

Genre: Fiction
Pages: 322
Published: September 13, 2016
Rate: 3 ⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis
The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

My Take
Out of all the books I have read by Ann Patchett, this has to be my least favorite. I struggled getting through the book and frankly speaking I should have stopped reading it while I could because it didn’t get any better.

“…sometimes a person just has to look.”

I love Patchett’s writing. I have said it time and again she is brilliant. I think that’s the only thing that made this book better for me.
The writing in Commonwealth is sublime. Draws you in and makes you want to keep on reading.

Commonwealth is a multi generation story spanning five decades told from the perspective of different characters from the two families. Now as much as I was drawn in by the writing the book felt flat. So much momentum build up but nothing is happening. The plot is littered with many intricate stories that I had trouble following, or figuring out.
The characters were easily forgettable and that was annoying because I kept on having to go back a couple pages just to remind myself who I’m reading about.

I have seen Commonwealth praised, recommended and even on a few best lists but for the life of me I can’t see, or tell why. That wow factor isn’t there.

I’m led to believe it’s one of those books you either love it or you don’t. Unfortunately for me I don’t.
Have you read Commonwealth? If yes, what did you think about it?

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