This is one of those books that I think my opinion goes against popular opinion. I am honestly confused about the popularity of this book. It makes me want to search out great Asian literature (that has been translated into English).
I am most commonly drawn to books with strong and detailed characters. This book did not have characters, it had people stuffed into designer clothes. People were described first by the labels that they were wearing. Their personalities and physical characteristics were rarely mentioned. The people were all a mass lump only separated by poor and uber rich. I know nothing about designer labels, so this all went completely over my head and detached me from the book.
If my boyfriend 'forgot' to tell me he was a billionaire before taking me to meet his family, especially if I know that his culture is deeply rooted in tradition, I would be livid. Rachel does not even get upset until the end of the book and by that point it no longer makes sense. Of course it only lasts for a few pages.
This is the only book that I think the movie will turn out better than the book. From what I heard the movie is at least set up like a fairy tale. The book is not. While I am not a big fan of fairy tale romance books, that would at least make sense. How this novel is structured left me wondering, why? If there was an overall message of this book I think it is - if you have money make sure to flaunt it, but only in a humane way.
I wanted to DNF this book so often, the only reason I kept going is because this book is so huge and I wanted to write a review of the entire novel. I actually tried to make myself like this book and then something else ridiculous happened and I could not.
I listened to this book in audio book, which did not help. The accents kept changing, for the same character. They often did not fit the character. I felt like I had to fight past the narrator to get to the book. Except the book itself was also not that great.
Commonwealth follows an interesting narrative style. Time is not linear, but is almost a character in the book itself. The story does start at the beginning, the very beginning, where two adults meet at a christening party. They eventually divorce and marry each other causing a web of interconnections between their siblings and the ex-spouses as well.
In many ways this is a novel about family, specifically about the complexities of family. It is about the imperfectness of human nature and the naivety of childhood. You see through two generations at various points in their life. The first generation is the parents that you see when they are still early middle age with young children. You experience them age and mature and see them before their death. Then you see the young children. You see their perspective as they grow into middle age themselves and began to understand their parents. As they begin to understand their parents the reader does as well.
At the start of the novel the children are young and not all that interesting and the parents are understood more from a child perspective. As such, they are petty and make decisions that are disastrous. It is hard to connect to the characters at first. Then as everyone in the novel grows you see the past through the eyes of a more mature stance and things start to become more realistic. Not every decision was great, but you can see why they were made.
I could see breaking down this story and writing a very in depth thesis on the themes built into it. Yet, as a casual read it was really only a four star book for me. It was just too unlikable at first. Ann Patchett is an amazing author that I first found when I read Bel Canto. I plan to read many more of her works.
I cannot remember why I added this book to my long to be read pile, all I know is that I am so glad that I did. This book is powerful in a way that so few books are able to achieve. It is a fictional account of two sisters who found their voice to fight against slavery. In the process they found they also had to fight for the right to fight and unintentionally helped found the feminist movement.
This book is historical in nature. Yet, the themes that it represents are still needed in our current day. Slavery may be outlawed, but African Americans have the police called on them just for being black. Women are 'equal,' except we still receive lower pay, less opportunity, and still must fight for a voice.
The Invention of Wings is also about the personal struggle to find one's place in the world. It is about the struggle with God. It is about what it means to be human. It is about accepting others, despite their difference from yourself.
The writing is beautiful. The characters are brilliant. I am left wondering how I have not read Sue Monk Kidd before now, yet grateful that I have started.
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