Family affairs

commonIn Commonwealth by Anne Patchett, a lawyer, Bert Cousins, divorces his wife Teresa and marries Beverly, the ex-wife of a cop.  The impacts of their divorce and remarriage are visited upon their children, who grow up angry and resentful.  Patchett “elegantly manages” (Publishers Weekly) the ebb and flow of their alliances and animosities as the children grow to middle age. Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler also plays the family saga card, this time about a family fractured by the Vietnam War. This is an “assured, elegant novel (Publishers Weekly).“  Behold the Dreamers  by Imbolo Mbue is a promising debut about a Cameroonian immigrant who arrives in Harlem just in time for the 2007 collapse of the housing bubble. Also in the family drama mode: Barkskins by Annie Proulx, Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlin, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

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