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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

I was pleased to see this book on a number of list of best books published last year, because I have enjoyed each and every book by her.  And this one is exceptional, in a really understated way.  The book opens with a long and detailed telling of a man who crashes the christening party of someone that he barely knows and ends up kissing the man's wife and then marrying her.  Wow, I didn't see that coming.  The rest of the book is a compact saga of what happens from then on and a bit of what led up to it.  As s so often the case, the intruder did not simply sweep his coworker's wife off her feet, she was ripe for the wooing.
In other hands (mine included), this would be an epic, a sprawling chronicle of events and relationships spread out over dozens of chapters. But not so here.  This is like the book 'Homegoing' in that it tells a very big story in a series of short vignettes over about three hundred pages. Not only are whole decades missing, but they’re also repeatedly presented out of order. The reader is not so much told this story as allowed to listen in from another room as a door swings open and closed.  We are ease dropping and drawing our own conclusions,  Just brilliant and possible to read in a long afternoon.

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