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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

"Commonwealth" by Ann Patchett

This book starts slowly with the baptismal party for one-year-old Franny at which Bert, a friend of her father's, meets Beverley, her mother. Soon the two families have shuffled. In the summer Bert's four kids and Beverley's two kids holiday in Virginia, where Bert and Beverley now live. But B&B are neglectful parents and the six kids roam in the fields. Because Albie the youngest is such a pain they give him pills and gin to make him sleep while they have fun. Then tragedy strikes.

Years later Franny, haunted by her memories, meets a famous author and tells him the story of their life. Which becomes a best seller.

Shifting backwards and forwards in time, told from multiple points of view, this is a forensic dissection of families. Who'd be a mother after reading this?

It is a beautifully written book because of the compelling characters it creates and the the way the author dissects families with such ruthlessness and at the same time such compassion and these few lines below don't do it justice.

  • He looked like one of those gargoyles perched on a high corner of Notre Dame that's meant to scare the devil away.” (p 61)
  • Luggage: that which is to be lugged.” (p 72)
  • the bony protrusions of her vertebrae and clavicles were so clearly displayed she could have found work in an anatomy class.” (p 76)
  • In the summers they wandered out of the civilized world and into the early orphanage scenes of Oliver Twist.” (p 77)
  • The nuns had led her to believe that God gave preference to people who did things the hard way.” (p 125)
  • He rubbed his hands together to warm them up and then sank them deep into his pockets.” (p 135)
  • It made Albie want to take off his skin.” (p 171)
  • Life, Teresa knew by now, was a series of losses.” (p 245)
  • Theresa was shocked by the roaming idleness of her mind, as if she was sifting through trash on the side of the freeway and was stopped, enchanted, but every foil gum wrapper.” (p 290)

Patchett also wrote the wonderful Bel Canto, a faster paced book with less normality but a searingly passionate love story. I want to read more of this wonderful author.

December 2018; 322 pages

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