from my bookshelf: commonwealth by ann patchett


you will start commonwealth thinking you are reading an awful lot about cutting and squeezing oranges. with the turn of a few pages, you’ll be engrossed in the story of two families: the keatings and the cousinses. the four parents and six children between the families are forever connected by summers spent together in virginia. one of the children grows up and begins a relationship with a famous author, who takes her story as his own, and forces the families to confront their tangled past.


“Their foreheads were flushed and damp with sweat, their opened collars just beginning to darken, they worked as if the safety of their city relied on the making of orange juice.”

“Bert held a Jeffersonian belief that a basic understanding of the law was the foundation for any successful life, so even if one of the children wanted to be a nurse or teach school he expected they should secure law degrees first. His belief that a person without an understanding of the law could not actually be intelligent or interesting had been a problem in both of his marriages.”

“‘If I don’t go back to school,’ she whispered while she tucked a sheet over the sofa cushions, ‘the radical social experiment will have failed because I’ll have to kill myself.'”

“He wondered if this was what people were doing–were they making dinners with their family, holding babies, recounting days, Was that what life was like for them?”

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