Review – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Published: September 13th 2016 by Harper   
Genre: Fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction
Pages: 336

It just so happens one day at a christening party that a woman of one family and a man of another, happen to kiss. This is the beginning of a saga that spans five decades where the families are torn apart, and merged together in a sometimes forced and awkward manner, and other times in new and interesting ways.

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The first thing I notice is how well written the book is. The language flows so effortlessly and it’s a real pleasure to read. Until I unfortunately notice that there’s nothing in the story that interests me. It’s a little heartbreaking, since I want so very much to like it.

It’s not that the story isn’t interesting, because it really is, it’s more that I have trouble connecting with it. Maybe because absolutely everything about it is very far from anything I personally know of. I can’t really put my finger on it, it’s just not triggering any curiosity within me.

I have a personal love for nonlinear narratives, and commonwealth jumps back and forth in time. This may be confusing to some, and it took me a few blinks to understand where in time the story was, as it doesn’t inform you beforehand where it jumps in. Why am I not loving this again?

To me it felt a little like watching a space mission. I see the rocket, I know it’s very exciting, I know it’s a big deal, but I’m still indifferent. I can recognize the brilliance of this story, the greatness of a family saga, I know it’s well written, but I just can’t feel it. Does that make sense?

And still as I try to review it, I find myself liking it a great deal. It shows us the power of consequence and how small decisions in our lives can lead to greater things. It’s the “what if” scenario of just going with it. It’s how our actions affect those around us. It’s the dynamics of a blended family that’s tossed together on a page. And then quite literally tossed together on a page and forced to see themselves through a story. It’s an interesting question; how would you feel reading your own story?

I spent two weeks on this one. And I know that if I am sucked into a book I can finish it in a day, or two if it’s long. So I’m going to put it away now, as a battle I lost, and hope that I’ll like another book of hers better, cause I’m not done with Ann Patchett yet, not by a long shot!

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