Before buying Commonwealth, I had seen a few adverts and posters with the cover image and I received an email from Waterstones because they have an exclusive cover with free short story by Ann Patchett. I have to admit that not much more than this made me buy the book, I liked the cover image and I had heard good things about Patchett even though I hadn’t read any of her previous books. As soon as I posted a picture of the cover on Instagram I was given recommendations of her other books – keep an eye out for a future haul when I’m sure I’ll be buying more of her books!
Commonwealth is quite a tricky book to pin down, it doesn’t sit in any one genre, it’s not a crime novel, or a romance novel. Even the blurb is rather vague, discussing a christening party and two families becoming connected. The expansive time frame of the novel definitely appealed to me, we see children grow up and grow old, we see whole lives mapped out in this novel. Patchett has a fantastic authorial voice, evoking memories of childhood summers and those complicated friendships and sibling relationships of childhood. This book is very American, it is laced with images of an American Dream gone somewhat wrong and it is filled with beautiful imagery and language and a wide range of characters who are wonderfully complex, realistic and sometimes likeable, sometimes not.
This is not a hugely plotty novel, there are no car chases or fancy plot twists, but there are surprising moments and clever allusions. The varying time frames are written in disjointed order yet Pratchett manages to bring together moments which, in hindsight, become interconnected. The christening sits alongside moments of illness in old age, the memories of childhood sit alongside struggles with addiction, early days of marriage are juxtaposed with the next marriage. There is poignancy and thoughtfulness and then there are the beautiful passages of description.
Far from the fast paced crime novels I have been reading so much lately, this is a reflective, thoughtful novel. I wanted something to take me out of my comfort zone and this book really did that. While it doesn’t not have the punch or high emotion of some other similarly styled novels, it is really Patchett’s voice that is the best of this book for me. It is written beautifully, it is a crafted novel and the characters felt very real to me throughout. I read this book very quickly, I didn’t want to put it down and there were more than a few moments throughout when I paused and thought ‘?I want to write like this!’ If that’s not a good recommendation for a book, I don’t knw what is!
You can find my latest fashion video, a clothes haul, here!
Thank-you for reading, have a great weekend!