Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Book review: Commonwealth - A. Patchett


“He was making an effort to write a sermon in his head for the follow Sunday. He wanted to tell the congregation, the few who were not presently in the Keatings’ backyard, how the miracle of loaves and fishes had been enacted here today, but he couldn’t find a way to wring enough booze out of the narrative.”

There are simple family saga stories that really engage you, even if they are set in a completely different location and if whatever happens there will never happen to you. But you feel you are there, you live with the characters, your emotions follow the flow of theirs in such a way that mesmerize me every and each time. The power of books.
To me, it generally happens with American contemporary novels based on families, where the story line is quite simple yet dramatic, where there is suffering and loss, yet joy and hope.
And Commonwealth is one of those novels that had me glued in from the very beginning to the last word. It is a story about brotherhood and about families, it is the story of a group of kids who are somehow "forced" to grow up together, it is the story of three marriages, two that falls apart to create a new one which brings two family, six kids as a big family. But it is also the narration of the individual lives of the character from when they were little children until their older age. 
It is a book of summers of freedom at the lakeside, of California and Virginia, of mischievousness and tragedy, of a book inside the book.
Fix and Beverly have two daughters, he is a policeman, she is very beautiful, she leaves him for a lawyer who leaves his wife and four kids behind. In summer all the kids get together in Virginia, but one summer a tragedy happens and the oldest kid dies. Forward twenty years later, one of those kids - Franny, now in her late twenties meet a famous author and they fall in love and he writes a novel based on Franny's families story. Forward other twenty years later, Fix is very ill, his daughters get together to spend time with him and listen to all his stories. 
My favourite scene has to be the opening one: Beverly and Fix throw a christening party for baby Franny and then Bret arrives uninvited with a bottle of gin and magically oranges appears from everywhere to make cocktails. 
It is not a lighthearted novel, yet it never gives you the suffocating sensation of tragedy. Life is a mess, the two families are a mess, the single individuals are a mess, and yet you go through it. 

"Life ... was a series of losses. It was other things too, better things, but the losses were as solid and dependable as the earth itself."
I truly enjoyed Ann Patchett's writing style, swift and clever and never boring. The novel made me think a bit of We were never ourselves by Matthew Thomas, even if there are massive differences between the two, or A spool of blue thread by Anne Tyler.

In summary, I really enjoyed Commonwealth and I want to read other books from the same author as in both plot and writing style she really ticks all the boxes for me! 
Overall rating:  8  Plot: 8    Writing style: 8     Cover: 2

Title:Commonwealth
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 336
Publication year: 2016

Plot:
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. 
The Author:
Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction–Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, What Now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays examining the theme of commitment.Ann Patchett lives in Nashville with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky. She has opened a bookshop in Nashville, Tennessee, Parnassus Books.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Book Review: In cold blood - T. Capote



"I thought that Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman. I thought so right up to the moment that I cut his throat."

Gosh, how awful! Not the book, the facts described in the book. It is just a horrible story, this poor decent, hard working, well respected family killed in cold blood for not even 50 dollars in the end!
I get why Truman Capote got so fascinated by those murders and those killers to want to write a book about it. It is just unbelievable that two people, yes two "disturbed" people, no doubts, with a bad luggage of stealing, could committee such an atrocious act without any kind of remorse or nightmare at night!
The book itself is the account of what happened, who the family killed was, what the killers background was. There is a long part about their movements to reach the farm and then an account of the killing themselves. The end chapter is about the trial and the subsequent appeal.
It is a chronicle of what happened, well written, quite cold and factual, with some feelings from the various characters in the story in it, but generally it is quite a detached account of events. But the events themselves are so horrible that it becomes addictive to read on and on, to try and understand if they had a motive and what went on in their minds to commit such brutal assassinations.
A good read for the readers that like real crime story and are not too weak in the stomach!

Overall rating: 6,5   Plot: NA   Writing style: 6,5    Cover: 4




Title:In cold blood
Author: Truman Capote
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 352
Publication year: 1965

Plot:
The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in Penguin Modern Classics. Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human.
The Author:
Truman Garcia Capote born Truman Streckfus Persons, (September 30, 1924 – August 25, 1984) was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor, many of whose short storiesnovelsplays, annonfiction are recognized as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and the true crime novel In Cold Blood (1966), which he labeled a "nonfiction novel". At least 20 films and television dramas have been produced of Capote novels, stories, and plays.