Thoughts cwbyap by Ann Patchett, Harper 2016, 322 pages Hardback

Challenge: Inaugural Read of my new book club!  BA’s selection.
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Family Drama
Type/Source: Hardback given to me by Katie. Thank you
 Why I read this now: Book club meets 2nd Tuesday of December. I wanted to read it sooner so that someone could borrow if they needed to.

MOTIVATION for READING:  I have a book crush on Ann Patchett.

“Your mom doesn’t know about the movie, does she?”
“My mom doesn’t know about the book,” he said, “It turns out a novel isn’t the worst place to hide things.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The repercussions of adults paying little respect for their marriage vows – two divorces, six little children become step-siblings, they grow up and scatter to the four corners. All the family members get a view and a side to the story. There’s an ‘event’ and of course, the adults and even the kids are not quite sure what was true and what was right. Utterly engrossing!

“Now here he was, as thin and as quiet as a knife.”

WHAT’s GOOD: The opening / the setup / the first chapter is captivating. Enthralling. Exquisitely played. I loved the situational “funny” lines that made me laugh out loud but most people probably would NOT call this a comedy. (Actually, now that I’m reading Irving’s The World According to Garp, I have to say that some of these funny moments are eerily Irving-like.*)

What’s NOT so good: Having to read all the bad reviews on goodreads because I disagree. HA!  No offense to anyone who didn’t like this book – I actually enjoyed every review I read — even the ones who thought it had too many characters or jumped around in time too much or that AP went ‘on and on’ and she is too descriptive. That the chapters were too long. I respectfully disagree. For me, it was none of those things. (I never notice chapter length unless I don’t like the book but even rarely then.)


FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought it perfect. Oh well, perfect is a pretty strong word, isn’t it… Let’s see. [Me thinking: thinkingface] Nope, I found it well-done. Perfectly paced. Fascinating and insightful about how little things might ‘ruin’ your life or just take it in a different direction. I loved Frannie and her father Fix. I thought Bert to be jerk. I loved how AP’s characters were real and did interesting things – like one of the daughters was a biomedical engineer. WOMEN IN STEM for the WIN! And how Frannie ran into a guy from law school and they end up getting married. And Holly ends up in Switzerland? That Bert’s ex-wife never gave him a thought after so many years though she spent just as many hating his guts. Loved the book. I can’t figure out how she put all that she did into this in just over 300 pages.

RATING: Five slices of apple pie. “They went back to the kitchen and sliced apples for a pie.” [page 292]

“No stupidity in happiness.”


FOR MY BOOKCLUBBERS. CLICK THIS –> LINK <– FOR MORE THOUGHTS (but wait til you finish the book…

*I forgot that I referenced a note, page 127, that Frannie read The World According to Garp and considered it my cue to read it next. Which I am, on audio.


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18 thoughts on “Commonwealth

  1. I didn’t like this one as much as you did–probably because I liked State of Wonder so much–but I like it better now for your observation that some of the humor is a bit Garp-like.

    1. I did like State of Wonder but I’m not sure if I didn’t like Commonwealth even more!

      Garp Garp Garp. I knew I was going to be in for a treat.

    1. Do you have a love/hate relationship with Patchett? I know many who do. And it is always interesting to me that some love Bel Canto and hate something else and vice versa. Which just goes to prove that even the extremely talented authors are not universally loved – always room for personal tastes and opinions.

  2. I loved this one and didn’t read the Amazon reviews…maybe I should go back and do that. I also loved Garp, but read it so long ago that I can’t remember the humor, etc. Time for a re-read.

    I loved Patchett’s writing style in this one…that’s what hooked me.

    1. I loved it, *shrug*. I always enjoy reading the other reviews for some reason (NEVER the amazon ones, only the goodreads ones (and LITSY!), especially to explain low ratings. Helps me to realize that ratings don’t often mean a thing and not to get worked up about it.

  3. I’m with you on this one! I know a lot of people had problems with the structure but, after that first big jump, I had no problem figuring out where we were in time or whose voice we were hearing. Loved the relationship between the step-siblings and how the relationships forged during the duration of that marriage stood the test of time. Very real.

  4. I also like to read the reviews after I’ve read a book. It’s sort of like a one-sided book group discussion – I get the perspective from a bunch of different people, and sometimes I even pick up on things I missed.

  5. I have only ever read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. (Though I have her This is a Story of a Happy Marriage, that you sent me!) I admit I found her too long-winded in that book, though I have higher hopes for the short story collection. I think I shall try that one first and THEN Commonwealth. Maybe. 🙂

    1. I think I will go straight to her first one. She’s got plenty to keep me busy anyway. Like like Margaret Atwood but I’ll be busy enough.

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