Commonwealth by Ann PatchettCommonwealth by Ann Patchett


byAnn Patchett

Paperback | September 13, 2016


#1 New York Times Bestseller

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.

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.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

Ann Patchett was born on December 2, 1963. She received the Orange Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2002 for her novel Bel Canto. Her other novels include The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician's Assistant, and State of Wonder. She has also written several nonfiction works including Truth and Beauty: A Friendship,...
Title:CommonwealthFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.84 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 0.84 inPublished:September 13, 2016Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062563203

ISBN - 13:9780062563200


Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed big time I LOVED 'State of Wonder' and 'Bel Canto'. I liked 'Run', but this novel was so disappointing. I had to have a post-it note on the front cover to keep track of who was married to whom and which parents had which kids. The chapters were far too long. The jumps from past to present and present to past were a challenge to track. I wanted so much to love this novel and so I persevered and read it to the very end. I am sorry but I cannot recommend this. But I have faith that this author will deliver great novels in the future.
Date published: 2019-03-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Uplifting? No. I wish I could say that I loved it as Patchett has such a following (although I did find her State of Wonder quite fascinating) but it did not captivate me. There were too many characters, who were so inter-tangled (married, divorced, co-workers, neighbours) that I found it just too much work! I know that life is complicated, that it can be complex, that it is always messy. Maybe that is what Patchett was telling us. I would not recommend this book if you are going through your own personal difficult time, don't try to follow the characters if you're on your second glass of wine, or if you're feeling cranky. The chapters jump around going back and forth in time, I'm sure there was art to this, but I found it confusing. I closed this book with some relief.
Date published: 2019-03-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Loved this book. Being a child of divorce and having experienced tragedy and drug addiction within that new family dynamic, I devoured this book. I could relate on many levels.
Date published: 2018-08-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay, but I didn't see the charm I was excited to read this and found it easy to get into, but then I found it jumped around. It was difficult to keep my attention from evening to evening as I was reading.
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Harsh, but accurate. I don't come from a blended family, but after reading this I think I can start to imagine what it's like. Commonwealth follows the threads of most of the characters involved in this story, focusing mainly on Franny (who tells the family's story to an author, a large part of the plot), Jeanette, and Albie, three of the six siblings and step-siblings involved with each other after their parents' affairs and remarrying. This is deftly worded and tightly crafted. It's a quick read, and also so harsh and uncomfortable; mainly because the author's language is so spot on: she writes what everyone is thinking. Even if you've never been unhappy in your marriage or with your children, you can understand that people would likely think exactly what she has written. A few things made me squirm because it's almost too relatable. That being said the characters are (mostly) likeable, and intelligent, and it revolves heavily around the childrens' relationships after being forced together when their parents break up and remarry and move apart. As it says in the book, they didn't hate each other; they hated their folks. Anyway not super uplifting but a good magnifying glass on life and relationship. Definitely recommend.
Date published: 2018-05-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad! I found this book easy to get into but hard to keep my interest. It jumps around through time so much you almost forget what is going on. It's about blended families yes, but how it gets to this and how the story unfolds is what made me want to put it down so many times BUT, Anne Patchett has a way with words that keep you going and it makes not too bad of a read. I think it just needed to flow a little bit better by not jumping around so much through time.
Date published: 2018-05-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Subtle Beauty in Tribulation Slow beginning but it was bearable. The story had a great flow despite the number of characters and the number of decades spanned throughout the book. I think Commonwealth almost gave a realistic depiction of what is life could be like after an affair, loss, blending families, retirement etc. Would recommend! #PlumReview
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I was Impressed! This was the second book of Ann Patchett that I read and I loved this book of hers even more.
Date published: 2018-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ann Patchett is gold As usual, Ann Patchett has written an excellent story with plenty of human interest and great flow. I really enjoyed reading this book. Excellent work!
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet, beautiful story Best book I've read this year. This is a story about members of two families brought together when the mother in one family ends up marrying the father of another family. The characters are not stereotyped, and the novel spans decades. The relationships between the six (step)siblings are explored in a masterful manner. The plot jumps back and forth between the decades, and as the novel progresses, the gaps are filled in and we see all the flaws and foibles and the love.
Date published: 2017-08-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Hard to get into. I had a really hard time getting into this book, I just kept putting it down and coming back to it later. There are a lot of characters and the story keeps bouncing back to the past, it made it hard to follow at times. Overall not a bad read, I've read worse, but it felt like too much of a chore.
Date published: 2017-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good story This was an interesting read, although you have to read a few chapters before you get into it. #PlumReview
Date published: 2017-06-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A bit slow A tad slow in the beginning but ended up a nice book.
Date published: 2017-04-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really interesting chracters it took a bit to get into but once you get into it its well worth the wait. I really enjoyed the vase characters throughout it. it was a really good read.
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from dont do it My book club read this book because of her previously great books and good reviews on this one but it was a flop. Some could;t even bring themselves to finish it. We could;t figure out what to pay attention to and what not to, it mentioned some things multiple times but with to obvious reason, then it settled on one story and it ended.....
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just OK While I can appreciate the concept of this novel and how difficult it can be putting 2 families together, I just found there to be too many characters for my liking. After finishing and still questioning who belonged to which family and what character was linked to who and who's wife was who's, it just seemed like too much work for me. This was my first novel by Ann Patchett and would be interested in reading more. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Couldn't get into this book I've read all of Ann Patchett's books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Was excited to get this book.... but couldn't get through it. It seemed flat.... I was so disappointed. Ultimately gave up on it, which is so unlike me.
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Enjoyed the story. Worth the read. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down This was a very interesting read, a little tough to get into at first but once I did, I was hooked. #PlumReview
Date published: 2017-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Charming It took me a while to get into the rhythm of this novel but once I did I was impressed by Patchett's skill in weaving together so many perspectives into one cohesive story. I am intrigued that the author claimed this novel as her most autobiographical. I think anyone who wonders about all the little actions that shape the narratives of our lives will find Commonwealth an excellent edition to their library.
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story I enjoyed reading this book. Very interesting mix of characters. Well worth picking up and reading over a rainy long weekend.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good! Borrowed this from a friend and I must say I was pleasantly surprised!
Date published: 2016-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! This book was a very good read. The story was original, and the details were so interesting - you can tell the author is an excellent observer of people. I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quality literary fiction that eloquently depicts the quiet drama of everyday life. I own three of Ann Patchett’s books, including the award winning “Bel Canto“. However, with review commitments, I didn’t get to them. Now I know I’ve got some excellent reading in store. “Commonwealth” was unexpected. Its myriad characters put me off at first. There were so many that I couldn’t seem to keep them straight. Then, there were the extreme jumps in time period, sometimes as much as fifty years… After I got my head around accepting the challenge, I just decided to roll with it and see where it led. What a good decision! Our memories are a collection of disjointed scenes, colored by our emotions at the time. Like our memories, “Commonwealth“, is a treasure trove of vivid scenes sewn together to make a cohesive whole. And what scenes! There was one I will always remember. It was of six young children, negligently unsupervised, who are left to their own devices for seven hours in a strange motel. They decide to seek out a nearby lake and set off with several cans of Coke, several chocolate bars, a full bottle of gin, and… a gun! Then there was one of a young woman taking (very expensive) lobsters that someone had purchased for a meal, and snipping their bands, released them back into the ocean. And the one where Franny meets Leon while working behind the bar. She takes her heels off because her feet are hurting… The one where Albie, the smallest boy, is drugged with Benadryl by the other children so that he won’t have to accompany them on their adventures. They leave him sleeping in a pile of dirty laundry. And one scene, particularly poignant, where an older man was taken to the beach in his wheelchair… Scenes which, while separately seem disjointed – join to form a portrait of a blended family. It all began at a christening party. When an uninvited guest, (a married father of four) felt attracted to the baby’s young and beautiful mother of two. Their lives moved on to break apart two marriages and the lives of their six children. Strangely, the children held no animosity toward one another, they kept that solely for their parents. “Commonwealth” may refer to the Commonwealth of Virginia, where one of the sets of parents lived. Or, it could refer to the ‘common wealth’ of the blended family. Children who seemed much richer when together. The story is set in two states: California and Virginia. The two children from California spent their summers with the four children from Virginia. A traumatic event happens to the family one summer which forever colors their psyche and the family’s collective memory. Years later, when this event is related to a novelist by one of the grown up children, their story, once deeply personal, is made into a novel (also called “Commonwealth”) which exposes their story to the world. “How difficult it would be to map out all the ways the future would unravel without the moorings of the past”. There are so many interesting characters in “Commonwealth” that it is hard to say that one is the ‘protagonist’. Though… if I had to chose one, it would be Franny. She is the baby who was being celebrated at the christening party at the beginning. She is a reader, and introspective. It is she who falls in love with a much older author and shares her family’s story with him. It is she that brings this story to a close. This is a story of love in its myriad forms. Of siblings who come to cherish one another. It is also a story of fate, loss, disappointments, mistakes, betrayal, and regret. “Commonwealth” is a novel that is, above all else, real and it eloquently depicts the quiet drama that is everyday life. Now I know why Ann Patchett has garnered a reputation for quality literary fiction.
Date published: 2016-10-03

Editorial Reviews

“Wryly humorous, intensely moving... this domestic novel is a book to savor from one of our finest writers”