Tag: family


Thoughtful Thursday: Commonwealth

Posted 5 January, 2017 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Thoughtful Thursday: CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
Published by Harper on September 13th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 322
Goodreads
four-half-stars

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.
Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.
When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.
Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

I’ve never been a huge Ann Patchett fan, so I didn’t gnash my teeth too much when I missed out on Commonwealth at BEA. However, when it showed up on the Tournament of Books longlist and after hearing all the praise that had since been heaped upon this novel, I decided to go ahead and pick it up.

Lord have mercy, I am so glad that I did. Commonwealth is a long-game character study in the tradition of John Irving. Patchett manages to render her characters beautifully, despite all their flaws and ugliness. She manages to make the reader care immensely for quite a large cast of characters in an impressively short page span. At a sparse 322 pages, I would have never guessed that Commonwealth could have made me care for Fix and Franny, Beverly, Caroline, Albie, even Bert and Leo(n). (et. al.) Despite the flaws that Patchett lays bare in each character, I found it impossible to really hate any of them. Instead I found even the worst of the characters (Bert, it had to be Bert) beautiful and struggling in his own way. Maybe it’s because I literally do the job that Bert Cousins did, I found his struggle to be at home with the kids and away from work and even his attraction to beautiful Beverly to be incredibly relatable.

This is a domestic novel, but it’s not just a domestic novel. There are many layers to be peeled away in Commonwealth, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This would be a great selection for a book club.

What about you Reader? I’m late to the game with this one? Anyone have other thoughts or feelings about Commonwealth?

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Sainthood Edition

Posted 9 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings, Reading

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Time // 9:22 AM EDT

Place // The doghouse. I pulled what I like to refer to as ‘a man’, but what is more accurately described in my relationship as ‘an April’ and made a major purchase of a new phone without consulting The Mister. While lying in bed next to him… … I promise it was less sneakiness and more thoughtlessness. When the iPhone6 came out last year I was an idiot and used my upgrade to only get the one with 16 gigs of storage, I had to have more… like 112 gigs more. The man really should be a candidate for sainthood for putting up with me. He doesn’t even read this, so you know I must mean it.

Reading // Finishing up the audio for Jo Nesbø’s The Son, a decent enough Scandinavian thriller I guess. Also about to finish up reading Atwood’s upcoming The Heart Goes Last, as I suspected it is basically the entirety of the published Positron Serials in one book, expanded, and with (I hope!) an ending. I’m not sure what’s next up though, I got a recommendation from a co-worker that looks pretty intriguing. Huzzah for free-range reading!

Happenings // Went to a birthday party with friends on Friday night at a local establishment resembling a Dave and Buster’s with an indoor go-kart track. It’s been a million years since I went go-karting, played skee-ball, or arcade games in general. To end the night a group of us ended up in the parking lot behind a Krispy Kreme at midnight just goofing off and eating doughnuts. (The dining room was closed, okay?!)  Ah, to be sixteen again. Good times. (…and another example of why The Mister is a damned saint, he stayed home with The Girl so I could pretend I was sixteen.)

playing video games

We’re terminating machines.

Family // The Girl started her new Montessori school this week. We had some hiccoughs because I pulled an April and never opened the ‘Welcome Letter’ email that the school sent. I mean… seriously, ‘welcome letter’ sounds like there’s nothing at all substantive in it. Well, there was and it was Wednesday before I hunted down the required white cloth napkins we were supposed to be sending with her lunchbox. I thought The Mister was going to have a stroke. But that’s all sorted out now.

Trying to buy // a house. We’re putting in a bid today on house number four (we’ve already bid and lost on three prior houses), this is important because we got an email this morning from our ridiculous landlords saying they’ve sold the rental that we’re living in and would like to close ASAP. (We weren’t even aware it was on the market and if they’ve been showing it we haven’t known.) Fingers crossed.

Confessed // to much of the office that I have a blog. I’m terrible at keeping my own secrets, but great at keeping secrets that belong to others. Hi Office!! *waves*

Edit //  I also wanted to share this post from some dear IRL friends about dealing with scary things during pregnancy. Get your tissues out.

What about you, Reader? Have you had an eventful week? Tell me!

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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