Commonwealth: Novela

3.5 out of 5 stars

Ann Patchett does it again. Other Patchett books I’ve enjoyed: Bel Canto and the Dutch House. I always read Patchett in conversation with Elizabeth Strout, whose Burgess Boys was what attracted me to reading more books that were literary thrillers (if you can call this book that).

I got so invested in this one. It felt like being the weird cousin hanging out with family. This book struggled with plot and felt the urge for a neat finish, though I honestly liked the bit at the end about Holly. That felt like a great place to end.

The mystery was always there throughout, and we kind of knew in our hearts what happened, but it was still so cruel and devastating. You had to see it unfold with your hands covering your eyes. I can’t really say much more than that without spoiling the book, but wow. Beware all mothers that love their children.

What I appreciate about Patchett is how she writes a book with full imagination, guns blazing. She doesn’t hold back and she crafts a story like what I suppose a bard or a town record keeper would–with great care, and detail, and she doesn’t always take herself so seriously. There are moments of lighthearted fun throughout that gives the reader the articulate space to breathe.

So much more Patchett to enjoy in my lifetime.

3 responses to “Commonwealth: Novela”

  1. Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors. Bel Canto is one of my favorite books of all time. The first time I read it I knew nothing about it. I got swept away in the characters and their relationships. It is gorgeous and heartbreaking. I love it.
    One summer I read Truth and Beauty: A Friendship about her friendship with Lucy Grealy. I followed it by reading Lucy Grealy’s memoir, Autobiography of a Face. I highly recommend them both!

    Here’s a little blurb about them:
    Ann Patchett and writer Lucy Grealy met in college and began a friendship that would be as defining to their lives as to their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, written after Grealy’s death, the story isn’t about Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. A portrait of unwavering commitment, Patchett’s memoir spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined…and what happens when one is left behind. A tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save, Truth & Beauty is about loyalty and being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

    Autobiography of a Face:
    This powerful memoir is about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman’s face in particular. It took Lucy Grealy twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood cancer and surgery that left her jaw disfigured. As a young girl, she absorbed the searing pain of peer rejection and the paralyzing fear of never being loved.

  2. I’ve been wanting to read Grealy’s book! Thanks for the reminder–I had no idea there was a connection between her and Patchett. I can’t wait to dig in. There’s nothing I love more than learning more of the histories that surround authors that I love, and the things they love. Do you ever read the By The Book column in the NYT?

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