Tag Archives: Commonwealth

WWW Wednesday, 16-August-2017

16 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


**So, it’s worth noting that I am AGAIN out-of-town and writing this quite in advance. Hey, it’s the summer and I’m going to take my vacation while I can! I may be a bit slow in responding but I am around and in the country this time. Send me some love while I explore NEW ORLEANS! I’m going to try to hit up a few bookstores here to report back.

Currently reading: Moderate progress on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. Probably some of my best progress in months, actually. It’s nice having time to read during lunch again! I think I’m about 2/3 of the way through and I’ll keep pushing forward.
New books for this list! The first is a new audiobook, The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer. Before I met Meltzer a few years back, I was at a church used book sale and picked up a few of his books, including this one. I’m listening to the audio to get to it sooner than I would my paper copy. So far, he’s delivering on the fast-paced thriller!
I also got to start Chemistry by Weike Wang! I’m really hoping to do an author interview with this book as I knew Wang in high school. If you want to read more about that, check out this post.

Recently finishedI finished I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum while cooking last Wednesday and I’ve been waiting a week to tell you all. I enjoyed it, but not for the reasons I expected to. It was sad but I could have known that if I read book summaries. I’ll have a review up next week. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished
 Empire Falls by Richard Russo on Friday. I knew this book was going to come to a quick end and I kind-of saw it coming, but I still gasped out loud near the end! I think I woke my husband up from his nap. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars. I also plan to have this review up next week.

Many of you have commented on it, but I posted a review of Commonwealth by Ann Patchett last Thursday. Please go check it out if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: As of writing, I think my next book will still be The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This might change just before I leave on my trip, though! I got invited to a conference that would interfere with me attending the book club meeting on this book. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ll skip the book if I can’t make the meeting and read something off my TBR instead. If that’s the case, I’ll probably pick My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It’s at the top of my TBR books that I own. Or I might grab something from the library before I leave. I’ll have to report back next week.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Club Reflection: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

15 Aug

My book club met when I returned from my trip and we talked about a book I greatly enjoyed, Commonwealth. Unfortunately, we were deeply divided on how we felt about the book. There were some who, like me, loved the book, and others who felt the best part was the cover flaps that could serve as bookmarks.

One common complaint we could all agree on was that there were too many characters. This became very obvious in the final chapter but even before then, it was a lot to keep track of. We all agreed some could have been deleted, like Father Mike and Beverly’s sister (whose name we didn’t even remember). Some readers felt that none of the characters were easy to relate to while some of us liked Theresa and Franny. One positive we could all agree on was that the time jumps were well done.

The title had a few meanings. The most obvious was a reference to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The second would be an allusion to the book Leon wrote. We felt that it took another definition, in this case referring to a group coming and working together.

The kids took care of themselves. Theresa was involved in her career and Beverly and Bert were involved in each other or themselves, never really paying attention to the kids. When Cal died, it proved that they’d failed at raising each other.

The two families did end up very close to each other. We found three solid examples of the families caring for each other. First was Albie’s involvement in Franny and Leon’s relationship. He cared for her a lot to point out what he saw as problems in their relationship. The second was Franny, Caroline, and Fix taking care of Theresa. This was the most obvious one to me and I thought it really highlighted their relationship well. The third was the close of the book when Franny went to visit Bert.

I felt so bad for Kumar at Beverly’s party. It must have been so demeaning but he took it like a champ. I was furious when Franny left him alone and went to visit Bert. Someone pointed out that it was paralleled to Franny at the beach house with Leon. Leon’s friends treated her like the help and Leon did next to nothing to help out. I would have liked to see her grow from that experience, but it was ironic to see the repetition.

The book Leon wrote was almost therapeutic for the family. It allowed Albie a way to talk about what had happened, a way for things to come into the open that had been ignored for so long before then I think the title as a reference to the book is appropriate, but I still like the community definition as a reason for it all.

It was fun to talk about this book with my club. Our next book is a title I read and reviewed a few years ago so I’m not going to re-read it. Get ready for a surprise and give me your best guess. I’ll give you one clue, it was a controversy when it came out.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (4/5)

10 Aug

My only other exposure to Ann Patchett had been nonfiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I liked the nonfiction, don’t get me wrong, but writers are very different when telling stories versus recounting them. It was a book club pick so I knew I was going to read it anyway!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Other books by Ann Patchett reviewed on this blog:

Truth and Beauty (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

This book was a fast read for me. I was in the middle of it when it came time to leave for my Pacific Northwest vacation so I quickly got the book on CD, burned it to my phone, and let myself enjoy it while running in Seattle. The switch from reading a paper copy to listening to someone else read to me was a bit jarring at first, but I grew to really enjoy the story and how it was read to me. I liked the story, it didn’t bother me that it was a character-driven novel, and I thought the time jumps were well done. It’s a book where it’s hard to put your finger on exactly why you enjoyed it, but it’s easy to say that you loved it.

The characters were well-developed and I liked them. Well, not all of them, but a lot of them. These were people I could have a drink with, people who could explain their lives to me and I would be touched and believe them. These were real people and I applaud Patchett for creating them when they felt real enough to touch.

I liked Franny. She made mistakes like the rest of her siblings, but she also owned up to them. She was very much a mother figure, even to her older sister at times, and for sure to all the Cousins kids. I’m glad so much of the book focused on her and I think her relationship with her father was one of the best in the book. She was the bookends of this book: her christening started it and her visit to Bert ended it.

I think Albie’s experiences are very relatable. As kids, there’s a lot that intentionally goes over our heads. There are things parents don’t tell us and things we don’t know to ask about. I think Albie felt like this through much of his life. He knew that he was somehow involved in Cal’s death but didn’t understand what had happened and was too confused to ask.

Ann Patchett
Image via Alchetron

I loved the opening scene of the book. The first chapter set up the rest of the story and it made for a great read. Figuring out the adult characters before moving to the children was a great introduction to this book and a great way of feeling out how the adults were going to act the rest of the book. You got a great sense of Fix and an immediate dislike for Bert. Theresa was purposefully left out of the scene which is telling for later in life.

The ending bothered me. It was the first time I really thought about a relationship between Bert and Franny. He is her ex-step-father so visiting him as a way of getting away from your mother and husband seemed odd to me at first. But, I had to realize, that man raised her. Or rather, was a ‘Bert’ version of a father, meaning he was probably absent a lot of the time. It didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book to me.

I only listened to the last 1/3 of this book on audio, having read the first part. The audiobook was narrated by Hope Davis and it took some adjusting for me only because I wasn’t ready for another voice to read me that story. It had been the voice in my head so it was a jarring change. After about a half hour, I adjusted fine and enjoyed the reading. Davis reads like she’s telling her best friend the story and this book did well in that style.

The Keatings and Cousins had to redefine family. Beverly and Bert were absent parents. Theresa was fighting to survive while Fix was desperate to be a father. The children had to raise each other and in the case of Albie, they failed for a long time. Later in life, the families are further complicated by distance, marriage, separation, and children so that some people seem to fall away and some fall into the fold. Franny experiences this with her latest stepfather’s family at the end, but she’s been through it as well.

Writer’s Takeaway: The only thing this book was lacking for me was some direction. It’s the story of a family, to be sure, but what happens to that family is unclear. They drift apart, but not all of them. Some of them come together. But others leave. And some are pushed out. It’s really unclear what the ending of this book wraps up. It’s beautifully written and I enjoyed the ride, I just wish I knew where I got off.

This book is a high precedent for Patchett’s fiction. I’m looking forward to others. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett | Fictionophile
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett | the book stop
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett | Book Addiction

WWW Wednesday, 26-July-2017

26 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


As a reminder, I’m on vacation this week so everything you see below is complete conjecture on where I think I’ll be. I’ll let you know next week if I was right!

Currently reading: A few pages here and there with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I’m going to guess it’s mainly while my husband plays Pokemon Go on our vacation and I need something to fill the gap. I don’t think I’ll finish it soon, but I’ll keep working on it.
I’m going to start the audiobook for I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum. I got this book at the library used book sale but I’m going to listen to it so I can get through it faster.
My physical book is whatever you all picked for me last week and as of now, I’m not sure what that is! Whatever you chose, I’m sure I’m enjoying it.

Recently finished: I (hope I) finished A Son of the Circus by John Irving during my travels. I decided to take it and sell it at a used book store while I’m away so I can buy more books without weighing down my suitcase.
I finished Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling. This one I’m sure of because I finished it right before I left! I adored this book and I gave it a full 5 out of 5 Stars and I’m eagerly awaiting the final book in the series.
I should finish Commonwealth by Ann Patchett before this post goes up. I have about a disk left on my phone and I’ll be doing a few runs where I’ll listen to it. I’m adoring it so far and I hope to continue loving it.

Reading Next: Whatever I traded A Son of the Circus for. It’s hard to say at this point because I’m still reading it as I type this!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-July-2017

19 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I got back to A Son of the Circus by John Irving! I know, it’s been a while. It’s taken me a bit of time to get back into the swing of it and remember everything that’s happening but I’m so excited to be reading it again and I’m really loving it.
A mild step forward Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi this week. I plan on going through this slowly so no problem that it’s taking a while.
Things are starting to really ramp up with Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling. I hope I can finish this before I head off on vacation because I’ll hate having to leave it behind and not know how it ends for a week!
I was able to transfer Commonwealth by Ann Patchett to my phone easily so I’m working on this as an audiobook now. It was weird going from me ‘reading’ the book in my head to listening to a narrator do it, but I’m over that hump now and still loving this story!

Recently finished: I finished The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde during my run last Thursday and it feels really good to have finished a book! It was really funny and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The review went up on Monday.

Reading Next: So, here’s the thing. I want to take a book or two on vacation with me but I want to take ones that I wouldn’t mind leaving behind. The plan is for them to be sold at used book stores when finished and new ones purchased. This is hard for me because I love keeping all the books I read, even if I don’t like them very much! However, I’m determined not to pay for a lot of bags. I hate to say it, but I likely won’t bring A Son of the Circus because it’s huge and I’m almost done with it. So, I picked out four choices and I want you guys to vote and tell me which to bring!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 12-July-2017

12 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Nothing with A Son of the Circus by John Irving but I have a plan! I’m hoping to switch Commonwealth to audio soon and that will give me time to finish this one! If everything lines up perfectly, I’ll take this one to Portland with me and sell it at Powell’s and buy another book there! Nerd dreams!
I got through a bit of Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi during lunches and waiting for the chiropractor, but nothing major. This book is pretty long and I think I’ll be reading it the rest of the summer at least.
I’m enjoying Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling and have convinced my husband to let me do all the driving so I can listen to it in the car while he plays games on his phone. It seems to be a win-win situation for us.
I’m loving Commonwealth by Ann Patchett so far. Her writing is amazing and the characters are drawing me in. I have the CD audiobook as well and I’m thinking of ripping it to my iTunes and putting it on my phone so I can finish it there when I finish Earnest. I have a multi-step plan to finish all of these, I assure you.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde is a fun listen. The full cast is helping it read more like a play than the last time I listened to a play on my phone. It’s quite short and I should be finishing it up shortly.

Recently finished: Nothing this week! I seem to have an all-or-nothing record with finishing books. I suspect at least one here next week!

I did get some reviews up, this week. First was a review of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig that I published on Monday. I’ve already posted my book club reflection of the book but I had a bit of my own insight that I wanted to be sure to share as well.
I also published my review of Abraham by Bruce Feiler. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Feiler’s other book that I read a few years ago so if you’re interested in his religious books, I recommend Walking the Bible.

Reading Next: I’m going to worry about starting a new book until I get through my current reads first! It’s a big slog of them and I hope to minimize the number before I leave for my big trip at the end of the month! I know I haven’t posted much about it here, but I’m VERY excited! Don’t worry, WWW Wednesday will not be interrupted!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 5-July-2017

5 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Still nothing with A Son of the Circus by John Irving. I’m hopeful I’ll get back to it soon with my book club being off for a few months and having read one of the future selections for my other club. I want to finish this one soon!
I read a bit of Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi during my lunch breaks like I’d wanted to. This one is slow and steady but I’m enjoying it a lot.
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling has been going well. I convinced hubby to listen to it while we drove to our holiday weekend vacation. I’m about half way now and I still have no idea who the crook could be. I hope to find out soon!

Recently finished: I just finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig while I was Up North (northern Michigan). It was a good read and I really did like it, despite the time it took me to finish. I’ll likely have a review up next week.
I got through Abraham by Bruce Feiler over the weekend. I didn’t like this as much as his other book that I’ve read but it was still interesting. Another review for next week.

Reading Next: I plan to start Commonwealth by Ann Patchett today. I hope this is a quick one and I’m really looking forward to it because it seems like one I’d really enjoy. Fingers crossed!
I’m also about to start The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I have an audiobook that’s full cast and only two hours so I think this one will be done by next week.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-June-2017

28 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m so sad to say no movement with A Son of the Circus by John Irving. I really want to get back to it soon!
Just a bit of movement with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. My class if over (!!!) so I can read during lunch again. And maybe outside, if it’s not raining.
Sadly, I did not finish Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig before my book club met on Monday. I’m so upset! It was a really busy time for me and this is what fell by the wayside. I still want to finish it because I do enjoy it but it’s now been ‘spoiled’ for me a bit.
I’m making slow progress on Abraham by Bruce Feiler. It’s a bit heavier than I was expecting and it’s hard to pay attention while cooking and take everything in!
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling has been great. I’m three disks into the 15 disk story so I still have a while to go but this one is looking great!

Recently finished: Nothing! Look how long that ‘reading’ list is, can you really blame me?

Reading Next: I’m trying my darndest to get an audio copy of my book club’s next book, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I’d love to have this on audio so I can keep reading Son of the Circus in print. Fingers crossed.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!