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.
This site may contain affiliate links, these links refer back to products. They do not cost the consumer any additional money. They do help fund the blog. In addition, some books may be provided to the site for free in exchange for an honest review, others come from the library, others are obtained for free off Amazon, some come from my private purchase. Regardless of how the books were obtained all reviews are my honest opinion.