Friday, February 17, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Hands down I give this lovely gem of a read 5 stars without hesitation! This book was so satisfying from cover to cover. Literary fiction used to be my jam (if you will) and recently I've veered off into YA/fantasy but after reading Commonwealth I really want to steer my preferences back toward my old trusted default. Although, bad ass teenage assassins or dystopian society's in which everyone has magical powers or fairytales retold for grown ups are very entertaining and enjoyable, there's not a lot of real substance or relatable material in that type of genre, I don't see reflections of myself or those around me, in the everyday situations and struggles of the human condition, as I saw in this book. The character development in this book was 5 stars on its own! To be able to follow a character from a young child, through college, careers, marriage & children of their own, all the way up to their 60's and everything in between, really makes you feel like you know them personally, especially when portrayed in Patchett's beautiful writing style.

In the description it reads that this book follows five generations of families, but for the most part the focus is primarily on two. It begins with two married couples, who divorce and remarry, and their two sets of young children, blending their families and sharing custody between California and Virginia. The story follows the parents all the way up to old age and their children to middle age and illustrates the changes that occur, for both the individual and the family dynamic, as time goes by. This is a book about relationships in good times and bad, how families come together and endure dispite loss and grief and guilt, or how they fall apart because of it. It's about cause and effect and how one small decision can alter not only the life of one person but of everyone else that one person is connected to, their children and relatives. I often caught myself reflecting on my own life, choices and family, and how entirely different it could have been and could be as the result of one "small" decision.

I loved this book. I thought it was extremely personal and insightful and I'm very curious to know if it's at all based on the life of the author, Ann Patchett, and her own family and, honestly, I'd be surprised if it wasn't because the story is so honest and so convincing. It's interesting, captivating and beautifully written in a way that is so simplistically profound because it's simply telling the story of a family's life as they grow up and grow old but in a way that I was able to connect with personally as if I were reading about my own sister or mother or father and she did it in a way that wasn't heavy or depressing while still managing layers of depth.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well written novels by talented storytellers. I borrowed this from my local library where all that was available was the audio version on CD which I enjoyed whenever I was driving, or riding, in my vehicle no my very critical, non-reading, boyfriend also enjoyed it very much which speaks volumes in itself! The narrator did a great job bringing the characters to life in a soothing, relaxed tone, so I can definitely recommend that format to anyone who enjoys audio books (or whose library is currently out of the print version).

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