Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Anna:

It’s official. Ann Patchett is a literary genius.

Commonwealth is hard to explain, and it took me so long to pick up because besides being a multigenerational family tale, the description is pretty vague. I’m so glad I finally read it! This is a book that kept me reading late into the night, and only regretted a little bit the next day at work, which I haven’t done in a while.

The book is extremely character-driven, which is one of the reasons I liked it so much. Despite the depth of characterization, I wouldn’t describe the plot as slow-moving at all–there’s a family tragedy at the center of it all that ties the characters together and keeps the reader guessing.

This book has many different characters and perspectives, which is something I love in a book but is often difficult to do well. Ann Patchett does this beautifully. All the characters are fully fleshed out with real motivations and lives, even the ones that only have a few pages in their perspective. At the end thought about who I would identify as the central character. It’s probabably, Franny–the baby at the baptism responsible for mixing all their lives together in the first place–bringing the book full circle! Yet every other character feels just as vital.

Commonwealth is about guilt, forgiveness, and the complexities of familial love. It’s also set partially in Virginia, where I live and where everything bad in the book happens! I cracked up at all the descriptions of the summer heat and mosquitoes.

VERDICT: 4 books

Which Ann Patchett book should I pick up next? The only other one I’ve read is State of Wonder.

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