Read Commonwealth by Ann Patchett Online

commonwealth

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 theOne 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....

Title : Commonwealth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781408880395
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 326 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Commonwealth Reviews

  • Elyse
    2019-04-24 13:25

    Wow....I have spent hours thinking about this book. The characters are deep in my mind. There will be NO SPOILERS in my review!!! NONE!!!!If you need a 'little' information to know weather you want to risk reading an Ann Patchett book, which I clearly do not understand.....lol,the blurb gives enough details about this story. I'm only going to spit out random thoughts.... ( a discussion group would be enriching....one I'd love to be part of) I wasn't 100% crazy about every scene - every minute of this novel....yet overall I have to give this book a high top rating of 5 stars.These characters won't fade away easily. Believe me... You'll know all of them pretty darn well by the time you finish this book - and you won't need to take a single note. You'll just easily remember names and details ... ( HUGE CREDIT to ANN PATCHETT) I 'definitely' have 2 - ok- 3 ....shit....4 favorite scenes....But I think EVERYONE would be 'crazy-in-their-head'.....not to think the opening chapter is one of the most brilliant - stand out - memorable scenes to come along in a contemporary family-saga novel in YEARS!!!!! Readers will 'want' to talk about the opening scene. It's just normal!!! 1964 becomes very visual inside the Keating's house. My next favorite scene -- equally as brilliant as the first chapter ...( just different)....was a turn-on. ( alluring with tension to down-right hot). I'm not proud! Go, Ann Patchett! I never knew a waitress taking off her shoes could be so enticing. My next favorite scene scared the shit out of me - and then .... I said... "Whew".... Ok, we survived"?/!/?......Kids...breakfast ...candy bars... a walk to the lake?.....A personal share about my life: I have 4 first cousins. Add my older sister and I. The six of us spent our summer's together growing up. Some of us are married with children - some of us have been divorce - and re-married-- with blended families... There have been affairs - births - deaths All have traveled - some live in Israel -others now in the Midwest ..some still here in California. -- BUT our growing years were in Oakland/Berkeley and Piedmont. We are Rabbi's, lawyers, teachers, Doctors, Bart employees, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and some of us retired. It was easy to relate to this story for me - especially when the kids were smaller - exploring off on their own without parental supervision. That's how it was when I was growing up too. No adults knew of the trouble we got into. We just showed up in time for dinner.A FUNNY SCENE: feeding the children like they were the Von Trapp family. I was dying laughing!! ( you must read the scene yourself) Enough of this non-review-review! I liked this book!!! I wanted to change a couple of scenes - ( but that's part of what makes this book good, too) Point is... I was involved! I was fully invested and committed --living along side this family. Thank You to Harper Press and Ann Patchett

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-04-26 09:28

    When Bert Cousins saw Beverly Keating it was love at first sight. Never mind that they met at the christening party for her second child. Never mind that Bert had a wife and several progeny of his own. He wanted this incredibly beautiful woman. This was the start of his life. It was also the end of two marriages, beginning a ripple that would continue spreading its impact over the next half century.Jump all those fifty years, more or less. Beverly’s ex, Fix Keating, the one she had left for Bert, is battling cancer. His daughter, Franny, the baby being christened in chapter one, is there to help out. Jump back to Bert and Beverly moving to Virginia in the 1960s, her two kids in tow and his four arriving for the summer. Jump to Franny working at a Chicago bar after dropping out of law school, and meeting a literary icon. The large jumps mean that we get only small fragments of entire lifetimes. It may be the writer’s impulse, as it is for many visual artists, to pare a story down to essentials, significant moments that define the substance of the tale being told. This happened then, and the rest followed from that. The notion being, I expect, that you don’t really need all that in-between material to see the path. If we see cause (pebble in the pond) we don’t need to see every single ripple, or the spaces between them, to understand that the ripples we do see arrived as a result of the initial stone.Ann Patchett - from The GuardianCommonwealth, another strong addition to Ann Patchett’s body of work, should be sold with springs in the binding for the considerable chronological leaps Patchett takes in giving us a portrait of people and families that emerge from the marital mixer. Given how many folks these days lived, live or will live in blended families, Patchett among them us, there should be plenty of resonance for large portions of the reading public. The Keating kids move with their mother from California to Virginia when Beverly remarries. This echoes the author’s history, as she had made a similar move as a kid when her mother remarried, leaving LA for Tennessee. Her stepfather’s four kids stayed in California, as Bert’s kids do in the novel. The commonwealth of kids in both Patchett’s actual life and in her novel comes in at a half dozen, so she knows of what she writes. Her father, like Fix Keating had career in the LAPD. Patchett made good use of her work as a waitress to inform her description of Franny working at a bar in Chicago. There is plenty more of Ann Pachett’s life sewn into her story.There are two major events in the book from which much of the repercussion spreads. Beverly leaving her husband to marry someone else and move a continent away, and a tragic death that take place when the six kids are all together in the east. In The Getaway Car, a memoir-ish piece she wrote about writing (included in her non-fic collection This is the Story of a Happy Marriage), Patchett notes...I’ve always been grateful (and somewhat amazed) that I read The Magic Mountain in my high school English class. That novel’s basic plot—a group of strangers are thrown together by circumstance and form a society in confinement—became the story line for just about everything I’ve ever written.That would certainly fit here as the six step-sibs form their own community of sorts, one in which they may not have absolute power, but one in which they exercise as much group autonomy as possible. The circumstance in which they find themselves and the relationships that are formed there will affect the rest of their lives. Maybe the point is that we are all in it together, for better or worse, for ups and downs, for dislocation and for stasis, for jumps and for landings. Maybe it is just Patchett telling the story of her family. You could take it either way, or both ways. Neither interpretation would require a leap. There is a lot here on parenting. Much of it reflecting the attitudes of different eras. It is not so strange, for example, that a 1960s lawyer would leave most of the parenting to his homemaker wife, or wives, as the case may be. That reflected the pre-Lib ethos that ruled at the time. But Bert is definitely presented as an absentee parent. His ex, coping as a single mother with four kids, is stretched to the limit, The speed at which their mother ran from work to school to the grocery store to home had doubled. She was always arriving, always leaving, never there.but there is definitely a question as to how attentive a mother she would have been under any circumstances. Patchett plays the cheaper-by-the-half-dozen set up for a bit of light humor.Their mother made everyone line up in the kitchen according to age and come to the stove with their plate instead of putting the food on the table in dishes as she did every other night of the year. In the summers they wandered out of the civilized world and into the early orphanage scenes of Oliver Twist.And there is one particular bit involving the youngest of the crew, six-year-old Albie and some inappropriate music, that is howlingly funny. But there are events in the half-dozen’s time together that are as serious as a heart attack. And those secrets threaten to come to light when Franny’s literary fling absorbs the family tale from her and reproduces it as an original novel, titled Commonwealth. And then, worse, a movie.The big time shifts in Commonwealth were both jarring and refreshing. Definitely makes the reader heat up those gray cells and get them sparking. I did wish, however that there had been more material about several of the characters. And some more indication of why they were the way they were. Why, for example, was Bev so open to moving on from her first marriage? The structure holds with only a few supporting pillars, but I wanted more rebar, closer together. I was reminded of Jennifer Haigh’s novel, Baker Towers, which was pretty good. But the author later wrote News From Heaven, a story collection that fleshed out the Baker Towers stories some more. I have no idea if Patchett has more material in store for these characters, but it would not be a bad idea if she did. Patchett’s writing here is closer to home than in some of her well-known novels. Her birthplace, Los Angeles, instead of Bel Canto’s unspecified Somewhere, South America, Virginia (standing in for Tennessee when she grew up and where she still lives) instead of the remote Amazon of State of Wonder. The characters and situations, clearly drawn from Patchett’s life, resonate with a palpable reality, even though no one of them holds the stage long enough. Connections are made between events and their consequences, supported by a swath of vignette and sharp observation. You are unlikely to relate to all the commonwealth members or their outer circle, but there are bound to be some characters who trip your connection switches, and others whose circumstances, and maybe ways of being you will recognize. A society of people will not rise, fall or sustain, as a result of reading Commonwealth, but it would definitely be in their collective self-interest to do so. It is a fascinating look at how change can affect our lives, and how we might find some sustenance by facing the world with the help and support of those with whom we have been thrown together.Publication - 9/13/2016Review Posted - 6/10/2016=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pagesPatchett seems to have stopped adding tweets to her Twitter page in 2011, but the feed from the bookstore in which she is a partner, Parnassus Books, is alive and wellThe only other Ann Patchett book I have reviewed is State of Wonder. I have read but not reviewed Bel Canto and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.Amusical item of possible relevanceNovember 23, 2016 - Commonwealth is named to the NY Times list of 100 Notable Books of 2016

  • Lindsay
    2019-04-30 06:29

    1 star. After reading 50% of this book, I'm going to stop. I know this book has fantastic reviews and I respect that, but this is just not for me. I was waiting for something to happen to pique my interest and it just didn't by the halfway point. The main problem for me is that I am a mother of young children which makes me overly sensitive toward these innocent kids. I had a hard time with all of the child neglect and poor parenting decisions in this book. I had a VERY hard time stomaching the Benadryl/gin/gun incident with the six children - little Albie being only 5 or 6 years old!?!? And the parents showing up at the children's motel room at 2pm the next day saying they "slept in"??? Or Teresa getting excited to have summers "off" from her children? Then Teresa sending them on a plane to their fathers house for a couple months without luggage??? Teresa was trying to "punish" her ex by making him buy everything the kids needed, but it's the kids who would suffer without their personal belongings and everyday comfort objects. These poor children are shipped back and forth between parents and states and then left to their own devices most of the time. Often, I found it hard to keep track of the children - which child belonged to which parents. I didn't connect with any characters. I liked Franny (a little), although I found the lead up to her affair extremely awkward and uneventful. Overall, I found this book to be slow and depressing. I know I'm in the minority, so please read other reviews before deciding on this book!

  • Debbie
    2019-05-05 13:37

    3.88, who do I appreciate?I’ve been putting off writing this review because I’ve been hoping that as time goes on, I’ll sit up and chirp instead of sit down and burp. But, alas, I am not chirping. The song is more or less forgotten, so I can’t in good conscience give this a wowsy 4 stars. It’s more like a 3.88, who do I appreciate, which I will round up to 4 because, well, ultimately I do appreciate Ann Patchett. I’m messed up when it comes to this writer. I insanely loved State of Wonder (declaring it an all-time favorite) but absolutely hated Bel Canto. I read a couple of other books by her that I liked, but nothing came anywhere close to State of Wonder. Then along came Commonwealth, and expectations were high. Of course I want everything she writes to do the same thing that State of Wonder did to me, but it’s a setup for failure when you want to re-create something that was perfect, like trying to find a pet that’s as perfect as the one you lost. This book just did not set fire to my soul. I wasn’t uttering a meh, mind you, but I wasn’t doing a jig either. It’s a good story, just not particularly memorable.But hot diggety--only two items on my Complaint Board! The small complaint first: Too many players! It’s not a crime if I have to draw a family tree, but laziness made me try to keep all the characters straight without having to find paper and pen and start sketching. There are two sets of parents with 6 kids among them—2 from one family and 4 from another. See? Already it’s hard. They become step-sibs who spend long summers together. Remembering which kids belongs to which mom and dad was tough at times. The bigger complaint: There's this weird distance that Patchett maintains, this formality. Maybe it’s just her tone, I don’t know. If I ever met her I'm pretty sure I’d say “how do you do” instead of “hi.” I sort of feel like I know the characters but I am also acutely aware they are far away in a story, not sitting next to me whispering their secrets into my ear. And damn, instead it is Patchett the storyteller sitting there beside me, her voice sometimes blocking out the voice of the characters, and forcing me to pay attention to her. I like it better when I get completely absorbed with the characters and forget there’s a puppet master pulling the strings.There are a lot of good things. Patchett rolls up her sleeves and cooks up a believable and interesting story. She really is a master storyteller. She paints the picture in broad strokes. The dialogue is not particularly rich but I like her sentence structure, the way she dresses the story--atop some good bones.Her plot is clever and sort of unusual (I found myself thinking, how did she come up with THAT secret), and it has the right amount of foreshadowing. And she doesn’t have any over-the-top drama or dialogue that would make it seem unrealistic. Her language is impeccable and she weaves scenes together beautifully, sometimes even while jumping back and forth between time periods. I discovered something curious. Even though I’m all over it if there are too many mundane little things being described, Patchett for some reason can get away with it without sending me screaming for my Complaint Board. I’m thinking it’s her sophisticated language that makes the simple details sound acceptable. And she has a real talent for painting a vivid picture with an economy of words.The book opens at a christening party for baby Franny, who is the main character of the story. It is there that the married Albert lustfully eyeballs Franny’s beautiful married mother, Beverly. By the next chapter or two, the story jumps to Albert and Beverly being a married couple (we don’t get the story of how the divorces went down). Patchett wins the prize for the weirdest man’s name ever—Beverly’s cuckolded husband is named Fix. Seriously. With the new family structures in place, we start getting to know all the children of the two divorces. The kids have a secret (oh how I love a good secret), and the repercussions of this secret are at the core of the story. I loved the way Patchett described how the kids formed a tribe that was theirs alone. The tribe had the innocence of childhood, and the ties among the kids were touching and real. While their parents dealt with their own adult dramas, the kids were often left to themselves, a pack of little kids having adventures and doing things that the parents would freak out about if they knew. It made me think about how complicated and fascinating sibling dynamics are. I’m one of five kids; the story reminded me of how it felt to be around many siblings, and it sent me down memory lane.Patchett really is good at developing characters. I liked the personalities that she gave each kid, especially, and the way they interacted was believable and intriguing. The book spans about 50 years; I was invested in seeing what kind of adults these kids grew into. And as other reviewers have mentioned, the adults could have come right out of the TV series Mad Men. Whereas the young kids were busy (mostly) having fun, the adults seemed incredibly sad and sometimes boozy. Franny’s story is the most developed. As an adult she has a relationship with an idol that will affect the entire family (hint: it has to do with the relationship between reality and art). And she is the main kid who cares for her ailing dad at the end. Despite the fact that there was a tragedy, this was basically a tame family drama, well-done and realistic. But I always clamor for edge! Even though I’m a total chicken and won’t even put the tip of my toe over any edge, I sure like my fictional characters to be perched, fearless, and going for the plunge. For instance, wouldn’t it have been bizarre and juicy if two of the step-kids had gotten it on? Now THAT might have made me sit up and chirp! But that would be a whole ‘nother story for a whole ‘nother day…

  • Roxane
    2019-05-01 10:35

    I loved this book. Gorgeously written, as is always the case with Ann Patchett. There is an ambitious narrative structure that, at times, gets away from the writer, but still, this is so so good.

  • Paromjit
    2019-05-18 07:27

    This is a moving novel about the blended modern family inspired by Ann Patchett's own personal family history. In the early 1960s, the married Bert Cousins is a deputy DA, out of sorts with his lot in life and family, and looking for something more. He rolls up uninvited to Franny Keating's christening party, and oiled by alcohol, falls in love with and kisses the beautiful Beverly Keating. This leads to the disintegration of the two respective families and a catalogue of repercussions down the years. In a narrative that shifts from person to person over 50 years in a non linear manner, with multiple threads, the greatest focus is on Franny. The story resonates strongly as so few of us today have experience of a family without divorce, separations, remarriages, and step relations. Bert and Beverly move to Virginia where, during the summer months, the six children from their marriages run wild in a way that would be less common today. The six are subject to all the strife that afflict a group of children but form strong bonds over their disappointments with and hatred of their parents. Patchett lets us get to know her characters well through detailed descriptions and vignettes of events, incidents and secrets. There is much comic humour, sorrows and tragedy in the highs and lows of a blended family. Franny is a law school dropout and becomes a waitress. She becomes involved with a writer, Leon Posen, to whom she confides her family history. Like a parasite, Posen appropriates this history to pen a bestseller that spawns a movie. This triggers the revisiting of a hidden past as the truth emerges. Fix Keating, LAPD cop, has cancer and it is Franny that comes to care for her father.Patchett gives us a a human and insightful look at the complexities of the dysfunctional modern family through the Cousins and the Keatings. Her character development is impressive, particularly with regard to Albie. There are perhaps an over abundance of characters but Patchett handles them adroitly. I was touched by her positivity with regard to the challenges of a blended family and of how time eventually is likely to iron out the wrinkles. A brilliant novel that I highly recommend. Thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.

  • Angela M
    2019-05-05 06:36

    Life is messy a lot of the time and no matter how much people love their families, I think we have to admit that we've all experienced some of the messiness that happens in life. The book opens with a christening party with lots of alcohol and you can't help but think by the end - how that first bottle of gin changed so many lives . While these are very different stories by Ann Patchett, the party scene with the house full of people reminded me just a little of the house full of people in Bel Canto - a lot of people and a lot going on, multiple stories and multiple conversations. That's where the similarities ended but the feel of that was familiar. Fast forward ,decades later and we learn just how much of what happens at this party has affected lives - two couples have divorced and the 6 children they have between them have forged unexpected bonds over their childhood and as adults. The narrative moves around in time and and we in essence don't have the full story of what happens over the years, but snap shots of this blended family. While it seems that there is not much of a plot, the story is full of life . You may not like every one of these characters but yet they seemed real, real enough that you understand why some of them are not happy with how their story is portrayed in the novel written about them by another character ! Recommended to fans of Patchett and anyone else who enjoys family dramas.Thanks to Harper Collins and Edelweiss.

  • Jen
    2019-05-09 13:41

    So, this is what happens when one too many gin and orange juices flow. At a baptism. Not the typical kind. The fun kind. One with lots of friends and family and somehow booze gets into the mix and what started off as a ritual turned into a party then spice in some infidelity and the wheels are put into motion for a family life detour.This is a story about families- their dysfunction, destruction, and loyalty. Truths are exposed after the publication of a novel that is loosely based on the 2 families. It's the realIzation of truths when secrets are revealed. Patchett expertly packages a novel within a novel - literally- with an abundance of themes-Divorce, addiction, relationships, personal growth, loss and regret.Not linear but not confusing; nice prose, interesting characters and entertaining. My 2nd Patchett. 4*

  • Diane
    2019-05-06 11:46

    I loved this book so much I read it twice in three months.Ann Patchett is one of my veryveryvery favorite modern writers, and I was so excited when Commonwealth was released that I dropped everything else I was reading to begin it. Later I had the good fortune to meet Patchett at a book reading in my city, and I gushed about how much I loved her work. She was gracious, smart, witty and kind, and my writer-crush was complete.As for Commonwealth, I treasured this story of a big, sprawling family with children who split their time between California and Virginia. The novel opens at a christening party in the early 1960s at the Los Angeles home of Fix and Beverly Keating. Fix is a cop, and Beverly is a beautiful woman who has an affair with Bert Cousins, an attorney who crashes the party. In upcoming chapters we will meet all of Cousins' children.The next chapter jumps ahead several decades and we see Fix again, although this time he is battling cancer. Fix's daughter, Franny, is visiting him in Los Angeles, trying to spend as much time as she can with her father before he dies. Since the opening scene, Fix and Beverly have divorced and married other people, and as the novel progresses we learn how the Keating children and the Cousins kids have grown up and had adventures together. Other chapters in the book also jump around in the family's history, though we're always following either a Keating or a Cousins. What I loved about this book is how well we get to know this big, messy family, and how real these characters became. Franny and Fix were my favorite, and I especially enjoyed the chapters that focused on Franny's life and her affair with a famous writer.It has taken me months to write a review of this book since I first read it because it's been hard for me to explain why I loved this story so much, probably because it's so personal. I identified with these children of a messy divorce, and I understand what it's like to care for a dying parent. But at heart, I also just love Patchett's writing. Her sentences are gorgeous, her characterization is brilliant, her wit is admirable. Five stars for the wonderful Ann Patchett.P.S. If you're new to Ann Patchett, I think Commonwealth is a good place to start. My other favorite novels of hers are Bel Canto and State of Wonder. In her nonfiction, I loved Truth and Beauty and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.First read: October 2016Second read: January 2017Opening Line "The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin."(This opening line and a few others in the book reminded me of Virginia Woolf.)Favorite Quotes"What you have to remember about your mother is that she didn't have her own character. She turned into whoever she was sitting next to.""This was the time she had, these were all the stories she was going to get.""Half the things in this life I wish I could remember and the other half I wish I could forget.""Did you ever want to be a writer?" / "No ... I only wanted to be a reader.""You can't spend your life regretting things.""It was about the inestimable burden of their lives: the work, the houses, the friendships, the marriages, the children, as if all the things they'd wanted and worked for had cemented the impossibility of any sort of happiness.""Isn't that what everyone wants, just for a moment to be unencumbered?""It was a wonderful thing to be needed by the person she most admired.""All the stories go with you ... All the things I didn't listen to, won't remember, never got right, wasn't around for.""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.""People are scared of the wrong things ... Cops are scared of the wrong things. We go around thinking that what's going to get us is waiting on the other side of the door: it's outside, it's in the closet, but it isn't like that ... For the vast majority of the people on this planet, the thing that's going to kill them is already on the inside."

  • Annet
    2019-05-11 11:31

    Well, I simply loved this book. 4.5 going on 5. One of the highlights in 2016. Wonderful storytelling about two families getting 'intertwined' by changed marriages, affected by a family tragedy that hit them all in some way. The story is written going to and fro in time, and we follow several family members in their personal lives at some point in time. It's a story full of emotion, tragedy, love...Beautiful & heartfelt... and highly recommended. Thanks to all Goodreads friends who brought me to this book!Note, and when I started reading I realized I have 'State of Wonder' of the same author in my library 'collection'. Never got round to reading it yet, although it passed thru my hands several times ;-) Will read it soon :-)Beginning lines of Commonwealth sets the stage: The Christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with the gin. Fix was smiling when he opened the door and he kept smiling as he struggled to make the connection: it was Albert Cousins from the district attorney's office standing on the cement slab of his front porch....

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-05-19 13:54

    4+ Early 1960, a christening party for baby Franny, where a spark will be ignited that will set up a chain of events that will echo down through the decades. Four adults, six children will be affected, and we will follow them as they try to maneuver through the many difficulties and tragedies fate will throw at them. The six children from the blended families will form, in the summers they spend together, a little tribe of their own and as a mother the things they got up to, with little adult supervision, made my hair stand on end.Patchett puts together a story of families, flawed families, but family nonetheless and very few do it better. Many of the characters are not likable, my favorite being Fix, the cop and father of two of the female children and one of the girls, the grownup Franny. Yet, they are easily recognizable as people who we may know, or know of, their problems ones shared by many. Wonderfully written, moving back and forth between characters, the reader eventually comes to know something about all of them. Still, this is very much Franny's story, she is the one we come to learn about the most. Like in real life, all do not get a happy ending but getting there, reading about them was a wonderful experience. Reminded me a little of The Children's Crusade, which I also enjoyed. ARC from publisher.

  • Dianne
    2019-04-23 11:37

    I am afraid I am going to be the outlier on this one - I wanted to love it; I was so sure I would love it that I purchased the hardcover copy to cherish, which I rarely do. I adore Ann Patchett! I just could not connect with this family drama or any of the characters. I can't fault her writing or the story or how it was laid out; it just was not compelling to me. I liked it in a very mild way, but I am not sure I'll remember much about it in a few months.I'm sorry, fellow Patchett lovers! Not my favorite of her works.

  • Larry H
    2019-05-04 09:31

    I'd rate this 4.5 stars."The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin."How can you resist a novel that starts like that?Bert Cousins' decision to bring a bottle of gin to a christening party for Fix and Beverly Keating's infant daughter Franny, a party to which he wasn't even invited, is much more than a social faux pas. Showing up at that party makes Bert realize he wants more out of his life than his job as a deputy DA, and his wife and three kids (with one more on the way) can offer him. Simply put, he wants Fix's life, or more specifically, Fix's wife. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett's newest novel, explores the ripple effect that Bert's actions during the christening party have not only on the two couples, but the six children they have between them. Focusing mostly on the children, shifting focus and perspective through five decades, this is a fascinating, moving, at times slightly meandering, but tremendously powerful look at how blended families try to coexist, and the strange and powerful bond that exists among the children in these families."Half the things in this life I wish I could remember and the other half I wish I could forget."The Keating and Cousins children grew up spending summers together in Virginia. They were a motley crew of different, and often disparate, personalities and behaviors, from sullen Cal and bossy Caroline, to know-it-all Holly and Albie, the hyperactive baby of both families. Taming Albie's behavior often was an activity that all of the children participated in, which led to a tragic event one summer day, a day which bonded all of the children with a secret they vowed never to share. But years later, in a relationship with a famous author, Franny shared her family's story, leading to the reopening of wounds thought healed (or at least ignored), and revealing more truths than they are ready to share.Who owns our story? Does anyone have the right to tell it? Does revealing hidden truths bring about catharsis, or more pain? Patchett raises interesting questions in this book, as she also looks at the challenges of loyalty affecting children of divorce and remarriage, the difficulty some experience in finding their own path in life, and the advantages and disadvantages of growing older.I've been a big fan of Patchett's throughout her career, devouring and loving all of her books, even the one which many are divided on, Bel Canto. The way she tells a story really immerses you in the middle of it, and her characters are richly drawn, even if they're not always sympathetic. This is a book of moments both big and small, emotions both dramatic and nuanced, and I found it really compelling, even though at times I wondered where she was taking the plot.Family dynamics and dysfunction is a topic often plumbed by fiction writers, and there have been some other really strong novels this year which centered around it, including Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's The Nest (see my review) and Calla Devlin's Tell Me Something Real (see my review), among others. Commonwealth is a little stronger than both of those, another novel that makes you think as it makes you feel.See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  • James
    2019-05-04 11:47

    4 stars to Ann Patchett's Commonwealth. I chose this book because it was about drama and relationships within a complex family, as it seemed similar the last book I had written, and it was written in a way that I hoped would align with my favorite styles: from multiple character view points but with a focus via a single character. It did not disappoint and I am glad I read the book, but I don't think it was in my top favorite's list.StoryThe book is told mostly from the character of Franny Keating, but several chapters cover each of her 5 siblings (some biological, some step). Her parents divorced after her christening in the 1960s, when her mother began an affair with Franny's father's colleague. When the two later married, his 4 children, Franny and her sister shared a home for most of their remaining childhood years alternating between Virginia and California, living with each set of parents and new step-families. Chapters focus on different friendships and relationships, spanning 50 years of Franny's life until the parents pass away. Readers get to watch how each sibling interprets and experiences death, marriage, parenting, careers and general comfort with life. It's a great commentary on the everyday happenings of a family touched by different realities in the course of life. Strengths1. Characters are vivid. With 4 parents, 6 children, countless spouses/partners and grandchildren, it's a lot to keep up with. The author does a great job at showing who is important and who isn't, which makes keeping track of everyone very easy. It's a very character-driven story with lots of plot elements along for the ride. 2. Writing is good. There are a few lengthy areas with great descriptions when they are needed, and dialogue is on point. You feel like you are there with the characters.Suggestions1. Dates were a little important in this book, but they were mostly left out. Typically, when you cover 50 years of the life of 15 major characters, each chapter would have a date and location so you can follow along easily. The author chose not to include dates and jumped around throughout the 50 year period. At times, it took a few minutes to determine what was happening and in which time period. I liked this a lot, as it was different than most books like this one, but it was a little frustrating at times as I felt like I only had a piece of the puzzle and wasn't even sure what I needed to know. It wasn't bad, just different -- and it may have been a little stronger with a little more structure in the how the book progressed.Final ThoughtsIt's a definite read for anyone who likes family dramas, books spanning lengthy time periods, watching what happens to characters over important periods in their life, but it's just 10 to 12 vignettes that are beautiful but don't tell the whole story. Then again, in life, we don't know the full story of all our friends, so this is like reading about an old friend. And that's a good thing in my book.About MeFor those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Julie
    2019-04-21 08:25

    Commonwealth by Ann Patchett is a 2016 Harper publication. This book is a bit of a departure for me, but I’ve been craving something different, something more profound and literary in nature. With Commonwealth, I came to the right place. One fateful Sunday afternoon, Bert Cousins arrives uninvited to Franny Keating’s christening party. He had only shown up to escape his own family life, which included his pregnant wife and three children. But, once he set eyes on the beautiful Beverly Keating, mother of Franny, he knew their fates were sealed. From that day forward life was never the same for the Keating’s or the Cousin’s. Bert and Beverly left their prospective spouses, got married, and like a premonition or example of the future family model, became a blended family.After reading a few reviews for this book, I have to confess, I feel slightly out of my element. Other than an occasional hankering to read a classic novel or perhaps something from Joyce Carol Oates, I rarely choose pure literature, although I love it when that prose shows up in the other genres I enjoy.Covering a vast span of time, the author touches base with all those affected by the disruption of their stable lives, the fallout of Beverly and Bert’s decision to leave their spouses, how their children learned to cope, the bonds they forged, the tragedies they endured, and the various directions their lives took over time, examining their triumphs and failures, loves and losses. The story is told through various stages of the character’s lives, in no particular order, which is a little unusual, and does require your full attention. But, the prose, of course, is so utterly absorbing, I did not want the book to end. I was totally immersed in the lives of these well drawn characters, some of whom were loveable, others not so much, while some are flaky and unsettled, and while some managed quite well in life, others flailed and faltered. It is certainly an interesting character study, giving the reader an inside peek into the lives of all those profoundly affected by the summers they spent in Commonwealth, Virginia. Family is family, blended or not, and this story proves that, with characters who may seem a little familiar to us. I especially loved the pieces of the story each person held secretly within their hearts, and the way they helped each other, even when they could have just as easily turned a cold shoulder. Overall, this is an absorbing and fascinating portrait of family and of life, which any fan of literary fiction will not want to miss.

  • Candi
    2019-05-09 10:36

    "Had the Keatings just put the gin in their liquor cabinet no one would have thought less of them. But Fix Keating had given the bottle to his wife, and his wife, worn down by the stress of throwing a good party, was going to have a drink, and if she was going to have a drink then by God everyone at the party was welcome to join her."A couple receives a very unusual gift at a christening party. I don’t remember anyone ever showing up with a bottle of gin at either of my children’s baptisms, but then again we didn’t invite every soul we knew and then some! In Commonwealth, an uninvited guest will provide the gin, the hostess will squeeze the oranges, and the neighbors will dash to their homes to add to the stash of alcohol. Well, if you’ve ever been to a party with lots of booze, which I suspect you have, then I’m sure you know that something is bound to happen. What happens at the christening party of pretty little Franny Keating will have a lasting effect on two families. I thought this was an entertaining book. The characters are very well developed and seemed so real. Six children and two sets of parents, a good deal of dysfunction, and some very interesting family dynamics make for a lot of drama. Shifting between characters and timelines kept the narrative engaging. I don’t think I would have liked this as much if it had been told in a linear fashion. The story jumped back and forth from when the children were very young, to teen years, to younger adults, and into middle-age. Adults grew into old age. It didn’t trip me up at all, as Patchett managed to pull this off with ease. I worried for these kids, out and about with no or little supervision – would they actually make it into adulthood?! My sister and I were watched like hawks by our parents, so I couldn’t at all relate to this story – perhaps that piqued my interest even more. As is the case with siblings and groups of kids, not everyone got along. Someone is always picked on or exploited for the benefit of the others. That was true here as well. I felt sorry for little Albie! There’s always that little kid that you see in action in real life and you think to yourself, “I wonder how he/she’s going to turn out?” Well, that’s what I thought about Albie. And I found out! I would actually have liked to learn a bit more about Albie in his older years, but there is no way Patchett could cover everyone in detail through adulthood unless she wanted to turn this into a family saga of sorts. There were a couple of things I fussed about while reading this, so I’ll share here. I thought the ending was rushed. I just expected it to perhaps come together a bit more by the end, but it seemed to finish rather abruptly. Also, there was a mystery event that is revealed to the reader in little bits and pieces. I felt the suspense of this building up as I turned the pages. I was eager to return to this part of the story so I could find out what happened. When I did, however, I felt a bit underwhelmed. I don’t know why I thought this was leading us somewhere else. I felt sad rather than shocked. I guess I expected to feel more surprised. I really like Ann Patchett’s concise prose, her storytelling feels fluid even with shifts in time. I liked the reflection on the “what-ifs”. If this one thing had happened differently, then things would have turned out another way. The choices we make lead us down paths that we cannot know ahead of time, but we should know that all of our choices will affect more than just ourselves. This book would appeal to readers that like contemporary fiction and stories about interesting family dynamics. This is my second novel by this author, and I plan to read more! I’m giving Commonwealth 3.5 stars rounded up for the strength in the writing.

  • Norma
    2019-04-23 14:32

    Dysfunctional family drama * Dysfunctional formatting * Dysfunctional review COMMONWEALTH by ANN PATCHETT is a literary fiction novel to cherish for its many different interwoven and blended stories of love, destiny, loyalty, loss, secrets, disappointments, betrayal, and mistakes creating a family bonded together by a common understanding of each other.ANN PATCHETT delivers an interesting, complicated, and well-written read here but I did find it to be somewhat challenging at times to keep up with all the characters, the different timelines, and their points of view as each chapter would jump around from place and time so you had to really pay close attention.  It definitely made it an unusual and enjoyable read though.There were a few scenes in this novel that I found extremely enjoyable and others where I cringed but what I actually really liked for the most part was that we got a good sense into how time changes and affects the lives of these characters.  How their lives evolved with the help and support from the people in their lives.To sum it all up it was an entertaining, unusual, insightful, and a steady-paced read with a satisfying ending.  I found that the audiobook had an excellent narrator for another enjoyable listen!  Would recommend!!All of Brenda & my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...

  • Noel Nunez
    2019-05-21 12:36

    SPOILER FREE REVIEWCommonwealth is a story about people's stories. There's a loose thread that binds all the tales together, but for the most part each one is treated separately. There are no surprise endings, no hidden lessons, no zombie apocalypse. Just the slow burn of daily life as the characters make mistakes and learn from them, trying to piece together a meaningful existence like the rest of us.In other words, profound, but way too realistic.How realistic? Well, there's a chapter about a daughter listening to her dad reminisce about his job in the police force. There's a scene where a mother waits inside an airport terminal for her stepchildren's luggage. There's a family road trip where one of the kids keeps saying "Are we there yet?"That realistic.Most authors would skip through these bland situations in order to save their readers from potential boredom, but not Ann Patchett. She soldiers through them like a woman on a mission. There's no pebble left unturned. By the end of the novel, we feel as if we have enough information to write a biography for each member of the main cast.There's nothing wrong with this approach except for the obvious reason: the pace bogs down considerably in some sections, and a large part of the material is so mundane that I felt tempted to quit the book several times.The first chapter is actually the most exciting: a guest turns up uninvited to a party and proceeds to flirt with the host's attractive wife. They begin an affair and ultimately divorce their respective spouses in order to get married. By the start of the second chapter, it's about fifty years into the future, and the kids from both broken families are all grown-up. The rest of the novel is focused on flashbacks and flash-forwards as each child (there are six in all) shares his or her story and how the divorce has affected them.One of the major problems of this novel is Patchett's huge cast. The six children aside, there are also the four divorced parents, the spouses that the children ultimately married, the grandkids, the in-laws, the friends, the lovers, the enemies, and a wide range of extras and bit players. Inexplicably, Patchett devotes huge chunks of text for even the most minor character. For example, in the first chapter, there is a priest who is given his own scene so that you'd think he has an important role to play, but he never shows up again. In the second chapter, we are treated to a lengthy flashback about a guy called Lomer who was already dead even before the novel began. Heck, there's even a small paragraph where a real estate agent expresses her thoughts.Do we really need that much information on these individuals? The protagonists don't even have enough page time as it is.The second major problem is the extreme use of head-hopping. Patchett starts with a specific character's point-of-view written in the third person, but then leapfrogs to another character with no warning. The result jars you like a turbulent plane. Here's one example, a LONG paragraph where a multitude of perspectives crash together without so much as a break:The children were seated across the aisle from one another, the boys on the left and the girls on the right, and each was given a set of junior airman wings, which only Cal refused to wear. They were glad to be on the plane, glad to be free of direct supervision for six hours. As much as they hated to leave their mother— they were unquestionably loyal to their mother— the four Cousins children thought of themselves as Virginians, even the youngest two, who had been born after the family’s move west. All of the Cousins children hated California. They were sick of being shoved down the hallways of the Torrance Unified School District. They were sick of the bus that picked them up on the corner every morning, and sick of the bus driver who would not cut them a break, even thirty seconds, if they were made late by Albie’s dawdling. They were sick of their mother, no matter how much they loved her, because she had on occasion cried when they returned to the house after missing the bus. Now she would be late for work. She went over it all again in the car as she drove them to school at terrifying speeds— she had to work, they couldn’t live on what their father gave them, she couldn’t afford to lose this job just because they weren’t responsible enough to walk to the goddamn corner on time. They blocked her out by pinching Albie, whose screams filled the car like mustard gas. More than anything they were sick of Albie, who had spilled his Coke all over the place and was at this very moment kicking the seat in front of him on the plane. Everything that happened was his fault. But they were sick of Cal too. He got to wear the house key on a dirty string around his neck because their mother told him it was his job to get everybody home after school and make them a snack. Cal was sick of doing it, and on most days he locked his sisters and brother out for at least an hour so that he could watch the television shows that he wanted to watch and clear his head. There was a hose on the side of the house and shade beneath the carport. It wasn’t like they were going to die. When their mother came home from work they met her at the door screaming about the tyranny of their situation. They lied about having done their homework, except for Holly, who always did her homework, sometimes sitting Indian-style under the carport with her books in her lap, because she lived for the positive reinforcement her teachers heaped on her. They were sick of Holly and the superiority of her good grades. Really, the only person they weren’t sick of was Jeanette, and that was because they never thought about her. She had retreated into a silence that any parent would have asked a teacher or a pediatrician about had they noticed it, but no one noticed. Jeanette was sick of that.Well, I got sick from reading that too. There are a lot more examples throughout the book.Despite these setbacks, I have to give credit to Patchett. She's a superb writer. After all, she won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2002, and they don't hand out those plaques to amateurs. Even though this is the first novel I read that was written by her, I could tell she has mastered the craft on a sentence level. Here are some juicy passages that I really enjoyed:The six children held in common one overarching principle that cast their potential dislike for one another down to the bottom of the minor leagues: they disliked the parents. They hated them.Here's another one:Bonnie X was wearing a dress with blue daisies on it that was short enough to make a priest wonder where he was supposed to rest his gaze, though when she’d gotten dressed this morning she probably hadn’t taken into account that there would be men sitting on the ground while she remained standing.Here's my favorite:He knew that making a move on a married woman was a bad idea, especially when you were in the woman’s house and her husband was also in the house and her husband was a cop and the party was a celebration of the birth of the cop’s second child. Cousins knew all of this but as the drinks stacked up he told himself there were larger forces at work.In the end, I was satisfied with the novel. The writing quality is through the roof, and Patchett really manages to capture the essence of her characters as well as the feeling of melancholy as we take a trip through their lives from womb to tomb. However, the viewpoint shifting is so frequent it made me nauseous, and the plodding nature of the story requires massive reserves of patience in the reader. If you are willing to sit through some parts where nothing much happens, you will be sufficiently rewarded in the end. But if not for my stubborn principle of always finishing a book that I started, I probably never would have made it that far.

  • Jenne
    2019-04-28 09:53

    I found it hard to give this book a rating. On the one hand, it was an excellent example of a literary novel. Great characters, good writing, lots of themes, emotionally engaging, the whole nine.On the other hand, I just don't really understand why people want to read books like this. Why do you want to get inserted into some person's depressing life? No opera singers or magicians or scientists deep in the jungle, just some people living in Los Angeles and dealing with each other's fuckups. What's the point?

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-05-13 10:35

    This was a beautiful book to finish off my reading year of 2016! It was my first novel by Ann Patchett, and throughout my reading of it I couldn't help but wonder how difficult the writing of this book must have been. That's because "Commonwealth" isn't written in chronological order. In fact, it starts in the middle of the story and proceeds to the ending of the story in chapter two. The rest of the book goes back and forth between the present, past and future, and you would think that that would make the book uninteresting and utterly spoiled. However, Ann Patchett is a talented story-teller because that is not the case! This novel just goes to show that even though you know how things end, that doesn't make the reading experience less of a pleasure. I loved "Commonwealth" for this feat and I admired the surprising structure as well as the beautiful storyline. This is a novel about family, destinies and life in general. It's one of those novels that questions the roads we take and how things could easily have ended up differently. It follows various families and characters, and it is thoroughly special and captivating throughout. I loved this book so much, and I'm definitely going to dive more into Ann Patchett's authorship in the new, upcoming year.

  • Jamise // Spines & Vines
    2019-05-13 11:29

    I love this book cover, the book not so much. When I reached the end I had an overwhelming feeling of what did I just read? What was the point or purpose? I was disappointed because I love Ann Patchett's beautiful writing but this story just never gained momentum. The story started off intriguing, fell into a state of whimsical melodrama and flatlined. At times it was difficult to keep up with all the characters or even care about them. I wanted to give up on this one because I simply never connected with the story.

  • Suzanne Leopold
    2019-05-11 14:51

    The book starts off at a party for Beverly Keating’s daughter Franny. Bert Cousins, attends the party and finds himself attracted to Beverly despite the fact that she is married to his colleague, Fix. Bert and Beverly, share a kiss which serves as a catalyst in changing both their family’s lives.Bert and Beverly marry and move to Virginia. The book now focuses on the six children between the two families. During the summers, when the children and stepchildren are together, they develop a bond. We meet the family members at different times and at different ages allowing us to understand the family complexities. Because the parents are selfish, the children spend time together unsupervised. A tragedy occurs that breaks some of the relationships leading to a betrayal among the group. I enjoyed reading this book. I found the family relationships and descriptions realistic. The portrayal of the aging parents and the dilemma it created for the children felt very real. The author did an excellent job setting an antagonistic tone among the adults. Paperback edition releases 5/2 - giveaway on my blog until 4/17 https://www.facebook.com/suzyapproved...

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-04-23 11:53

    Previously I’d always preferred Patchett’s nonfiction to her fiction. However, this, for me, was much better than Bel Canto and State of Wonder. As a deep study of blended family dynamics, it reminded me of Jonathan Franzen, as well as This Must Be the Place (Maggie O’Farrell) and The Green Road (Anne Enright). Like those two, it shifts elegantly between times and places, often without any overt triggers like a date heading or a chapter break.It all starts with an early 1960s christening party Los Angeles policeman Fix Keating is throwing for his younger daughter, Franny. DA Bert Cousins turns up, uninvited, with a bottle of gin the grateful guests quickly polish off in their fresh-squeezed orange juice. He also kisses the hostess, sparking a chain of events that will rearrange the Keating and Cousins families in the decades to come. It’s a wonderfully Mad Men-esque opening sequence, never quite matched by what follows, although some later scenes with Franny come close.The novel spends time with all six step-siblings, but Franny is definitely the main character – and likely an autobiographical stand-in for Patchett (anyone familiar with This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage will recognize some particulars, like the L.A. cop scene). As a waitress in Chicago, she meets a famous novelist who’s in a slump; the story of her childhood gives him his next bestseller but forces the siblings to revisit a tragic accident they never fully faced up to. “We were such a fierce little tribe,” stepsister Holly remembers. It’s intriguing to see the different places life takes them, ranging from law school to a Buddhist center in Switzerland.This is a sophisticated and atmospheric novel I would not hesitate to recommend to literary fiction fans in general and Patchett fans in particular. Releases September 13th.

  • Phrynne
    2019-05-22 10:35

    Four stars. Very well written, loved Frannie and Fix and even Albie by the end. I had some difficulty remembering who was whose child and who married who from time to time but I sorted myself out. I enjoyed the different stories of the various characters and how they all came together by the end. However (and this is where it lost a star) did no one else feel that the author was having trouble winding the book up. She was still introducing characters in the last chapter at the Dinesons' Christmas party and I felt a little adrift and unsatisfied by the last page.However still an excellent book, lovely prose, well written characters. I enjoyed it and read it practically in one sitting.

  • Dem
    2019-05-05 10:45

    The saying"Gin makes you sin" sure plays a role in Ann Patchett's latest novel Commonwealth.A novel about Family dynamics after marriages end and new relationships form and the fallout that folks have to deal with.One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited but with a large bottle of Gin. 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.An interesting novel in places with well formed likable and dislikable characters. The writing is good but there were many highs and lows for me in the novel. I enjoyed the the beginning of the novel as the situations and characters were interesting. Half ways through I got confused and struggled with the story and characters, but the novel picked up again towards the end. I think there were too many main characters to keep track of and I found the storyline confusing at a certain point. However the book does comes together at the end and while I liked it and it was a quick read, its not going to be a memorable one for me.

  • DeB MaRtEnS
    2019-04-22 14:32

    I love this book. Ann Patchett has put the "normal divorced family" on a platter, stuck an apple in its mouth and presented it with all of the showmanship of a true performer- and bludgeoned the pretence while gently uncovering the deepest wounds. Commonwealth is tartly humorous, painfully straight faced, baldly tragic and a trifle optimistic. It is unbelievable how much destruction that one person can cause. One person who can act without consideration or any thought of the enormous consequences for all of the others as a result AND remain unscathed, untouched and detached from its carnage. That is this story. Bert kisses a woman who isn't his own wife. The "why" isn't really significant. But the aftermath is. The six children affected by the divorces eventually find themselves forming an alliance, during the legally mandated summer visitation by Bert Cousins. His ex-wife Teresa had fought hard to give him only two weeks, but he was a lawyer backed by his parents' wealth, and she lost. "...she made a point to curse and weep, but she wondered silently if she hadn't just been handed the equivalent of a Caribbean vacation."I smiled at that sentence. Yes, I was divorced and it was cruelly messy. The single week that my kids agreed to go with their father and his new partner, they were made to wait in the car as the couple antique shopped on the way to their uncle's home. Once they reached it, and headed camping with cousins and aunt and uncle as well as their father and partner, they were ignored by their dad. They realized that the whole point of the trip was to show his brother how wonderfully well everyone had adjusted, while the cousins bullied them and their father partied, and didn't intercede. I got a frantic pay phone call from them, but was unable to retrieve them due to the distance. They never stayed with their father again. He had my kids testify to the court, because from then on he said I was keeping them from him and influencing them. They were 15 and 12 at the time. I would have loved some time off. Estrangement engenders further estrangement. That is quite typical of a devastating divorce. Commonwealth documents the cracks that appear, the load of responsibility which children assume, the displaced anger, the stunned wonkiness of the grieving parents and the ways everyone tries to find their way as they grope, without the script, the promised roadmap, to some form of working peace. This novel is brilliant. I read it in one gulp, feeling it as I did so. The upheaval in the lives of the Cousin and Keating children, young and as adults is something I understand, and Patchett has framed it tenderly and sensitively. The search for connection - or the fear of becoming close - the damages of great loss- and comfort in mutual understanding - the long road after divorce - Patchett has written a truly wonderful, moving novel.

  • Cheri
    2019-04-26 12:45

    Edit: Available to order now!Franny is one year old as this story begins; it’s her party, her christening party. She’s toddling around in diapers as their home is invaded by every cop in town, and all the associated characters, the booze is flowing, kids are playing everywhere, her mother, Beverly, is looking smashing in a sunny yellow dress, her beauty shining brightly enough that when Bert Cousins arrives, he’s blinded to everyone but her. In less time than it took Bert Cousins to drive there, he’s fallen in love, or at least some relation to it. Bert’s wife and four children are, for the moment oblivious to this, but not for long. In the timeframe of stories, it’s no time at all before Bert and Beverly pack up with her two and move across the country, from California to Virginia. Bert’s four children visit, during the summer months, and when all six are they, and they have a full house. Take a significant leap ahead in time to Franny, who is no longer toddling around in diapers, has dropped out of law school and is waitressing in a hotel bar, where she happens to meet one of her literary idols, and eventually they begin a friendship, which eventually becomes something more than just a friendship.The major events and several notable events have these people, their families that were their families in their former lives and their to-be families included, in and out of each other’s lives for the whole of this book. And, while it may sound disjointed, this works. The attachments they have are for life, and you learn a little bit more about each life as their stories meander through time, wrapping their stories around the stories of all those people who touched their lives. They are family. The only other Patchett novel I’ve read is State of Wonder, this was a little easier to relate to since it’s about families, essentially. The bonds we form with those we share a good part of our lifetime with, the ones we love even when we don’t particularly like what they do. Pub Date: 13 September 2016Many thanks to Harper, Edelweiss, and to author Ann Patchett for providing me with an advanced copy for reading and review.

  • Marie
    2019-05-15 09:51

    The opening scene is set up like artwork. You understand the background of the characters, the pace of their movements, the absurdity of their choices. You feel the heat of the summer day, understand the lives that the characters lead and the small town that they live in. You feel the music, the alcohol, the excitement, the dramatic turn of events that awaits. You feel some characters sliding out of focus while others are becoming more intensely illuminated even electrified. It’s as if a magic spell has been cast over the christening party with the the arrival of the handsome uninvited DA, his enormous bottle of liquor and love of oranges. The tension and magic builds feverishly until the kiss between Bert Cousins and Fix Keating's beautiful wife, Beverly.Commonwealthstarts out as a gorgeously written story about two families disrupted so casually, so brutally by this kiss at a christening party. The writing is so tight, so vivid, and the storyline is riveting. It follows the lives of the children and the parents in the aftermath of divorce. Each chapter is it’s own short story, jumping in space and time from the last. There are characters to love, to pity, to sympathize with, to worry about, to mourn for. The characters are all so human and the essence of humanity is explored through each of them.The chapters pertaining to the children growing up together, especially the ones taking place during the summer when all six children are together are astonishing. They are so well written and seem to contain so much truth. The amount of abandonment experienced by these children and hatred for their parents is astounding. The children were on their own to do as they pleased and Albie, the youngest, was the only thing holding them back. So, what did they do? They drugged him.Interestingly, this book is semi-autobiographical with many parallels to Ann Patchett’s life. She grew up in a blended Catholic family. Her father was a policeman. Then, there is a chapter about how Franny becomes Leo Posen’s muse. This writer basically manipulates Franny's life story into a novel, entitled Commonwealth, which is entirely her life and at the same time, not at all her life.This novel asks so many existential questions. How important is a moment in time? What would have happened if that one day had gone differently? Would the outcomes have been similar? What is important in the end? How does family shape us?As much as I adored the character development and the first three quarters of the novel, I must admit that some of the magic of it had departed by the end, for me. The characters were dispersed geographically and emotionally. As much as Ann Patchett gave me what I wanted in the end, which was an understanding of all the mysteries and a knowing of how each character of these two families fared in life, this part was far less interesting to me. Still, Ann Patchett is a brilliant, gifted writer and I was awed and amazed for at least the first three quarters of this book.For discussion questions, please see http://www.book-chatter.com/?p=816.

  • Liz
    2019-05-11 07:27

    What a strange book. Parts made laugh, parts made me cringe, and other parts just had me saying OMG. Like the mother, who seeking revenge on her ex-husband, sends their four children across the country to him for the summer with no luggage. It all starts with a kiss at a christening party and the next thing you know, two families have dissolved and re-assembled . But there are huge gaps in the storyline, like how Bert and Beverly actually end up together.You hear from each of the characters at various points in their lives. Some of them are more understandable or sympathetic than others. As an only child, I always find it fascinating how siblings can end up so different from each other. This books just reinforces that truth. Holly and Franny are one hundred eighty degrees apart, and the four Cousins kids are the four points of the compass. “The six children held in common one overarching principle that cast their potential dislike for one another down to the bottom of the minor leagues: they disliked their parents. They hated them.” And you can't blame them. The parents are all absentee parents. But one of the beauties of this book is how Patchett shows us how age smooths the edges. As adults, the kids have all pretty much accepted both natural and step parents. The writing, as always with Ann Patchett, is wonderful. The individual stories are wonderful. But the connection between the stories is often tenuous at best. At various stages, especially the first half, the book can feel very disjointed. I will say the book grew on me as it went on. By the end I appreciated how, in its own way, it came together.

  • Carmen
    2019-05-19 07:49

    That was a complete waste of time. I am very angry.The writing is mediocre. I can't believe how much praise Ann Patchett gets. The book is boring and pointless.I would rate it right up there with Fates and Furies, and we all know how much I hated that piece of shit.