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Commonwealth explores the complicated relationships of the Keating and Cousins families after they’re joined by infidelity, marriage, and divorce.

This book is more of a study of life rather than a novel. Instead of a protagonist, the story follows various members of a highly dysfunctional family. They lie to each other, cheat on each other, and abuse each other on various levels. Sometimes they are seeking personal gain, other times times they are seeking someone else’s downfall. It doesn’t really matter, because rather than showing how a blended family can unite and succeed, Patchett chose to show how a blended family can destroy (and enjoy) tearing itself apart from the inside out.

The plot was hard to follow. Events were uncovered out of order and the frequent flashbacks made the flow of the book choppy. The artistic decision to us a shifting POV didn’t help the cohesiveness of the story.

I know that this book received wonderful reviews, but it wasn’t for me.

Ann Patchett is a beautiful writer though, so if she’s written a more traditional novel, I’d love to read it!

Title: Commonwealth
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: May 2, 2017
When I first got the book, I thought they were peaches on the front and it reminded me of an old fashioned Savannah!
Dress: Bohme
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The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale delves into the oppressed world of Offred. Her life’s purposes as a Handmaid are to pick up groceries, keep herself healthy, and once a month try to get pregnant with the Commander. Anything else could get her killed.

So Offred doesn’t do anything else…for the whole…entire…book.

The Handmaid’s Tail isn’t a story about how Offred grew and changed. It’s a story of how the world she lived in changed. That’s what was so off-putting for me. I prefer character driven stories, and The Handmaid’s Tale serves as more of a political/religious critique.

I kept waiting for Offred to do something to challenge society, to rise up and find a way out. She’s given several opportunities and I rooted for her to take them, but Offred does what she is told and little more.

She remembers her life before Handmaids existed, a life when she was allowed to read, wear makeup, and dream of a future with her now missing husband and daughter. These flashbacks of “life before” break the story flow. Because Offred is such a passive character, she spends a lot of time thinking about the past. The frequent jumps from far past, to present, to recent past muddle the timeline of events and make the story drag.

If you are interested in fictional reflections about government/religion, then you might enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale. It wasn’t the book I expected, so I was disappointed.

This is one of the first audio books I’ve listened to while I was working. Not going to lie, it’s really hard to pay attention to an audio book while you’re writing emails. I had to rewind so many times because I tuned out the book!

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Anchor
Published: March 16, 1998
The Handmaids are a class of oppressed women. I took these photos the day after I chopped off my hair…#notoppressed

Lily and the Octopus

Lily and the Octopus
Lily is a twelve-year-old dachshund with a tumor…I’m sorry, “octopus” on her head. Her owner, Ted, can’t bring himself to acknowledge Lily’s illness and does everything in his power and imagination to save her. 

I have never read a “dog novel” in my life, because whenever a dog is a main character it can’t end well. Am I right? 

Lily and the Octopus received such great reviews that I broke my own rule and read a “dog novel.” This was NOT the book for me to start with. Rather than being a moving fictional read about a man’s love for his dog, this book was more magical realism about a man’s obsession with his dog’s tumor.

I understand that everyone handles grief in different ways. Ted’s reaction is denial, and rather than being able to enjoy the time he has left with Lily, (she is really really old) he breathes life into her tumor. His imagination turns it into a talking octopus. 

I liked the parts where Ted had flashbacks of his life with Lily, or when he and Lily had conversations. They were just so fleeting and always overshadowed by the octopus. 

Between the talking tumor, the self-pity, and an entire section (whole chapters) about a really weird dream, this book didn’t trigger any tears from me (and I have a four-year-old dog that’s going blind for reasons the vet can’t explain, so my baby’s death has crossed my mind more than once.)

This was a book that just wasn’t meant for me.

Title: Lily and the Octopus 
Author: Steven Rowley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Published: June 7, 2016
Maybe subconsciously I read a “dog book” just so I could post pictures of Darcie here on the blog. Here’s a little #tbt to when she was a newly adopted street mutt.