by Ann Patchett

Overview: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.

Judy Stanton (01/15/18): I enjoyed this intriguing saga about family relationships when children are yours, mine and ours in divorce this case, multiple divorces and marriages. The book made me reflect on life, with time passing and children becoming parents, and parents aging well or with health complications. In many ways, I felt it mirrored real life, where childhood relationships may change when reaching adulthood, for better or for worse. It took me a while to get used to the pace of the novel. Being an avid reader, I am accustomed to authors making each chapter a change in focus on time and character. I found, though, that it took me awhile to catch on to the new time frame in reading each chapter; though skillfully written, at times I had to stop and think, where are we now? .... especially when I put the book down and then came back to read it. I will definitely read other Ann Patchett books.
Rating: ****

Debbie Weiss (11/14/17): This novel is basically a story of a blended family, similar to the stories of myriads of families that exist today. We follow the lives of the 3 Cousin children and the 2 Keating children from youth through middle age. We are given hints along the way as to why one of the children died and we see the successes and failures of each of them. While this was an easy read, I was a little disappointed because I expected something more intriguing by author Ann Patchett.
Rating: ***

Faith Bowers (11/15/16): I love Ms. Patchett’s books. This was a messy story with crystal clear writing. Two families’ kids blend without any helicopter parents, I want to say in the 70s. No one is perfect and life is full of mistakes that create turning points in this family. It was a two day enjoyable read because you have to find out what really happened in the Virginia farm.
Rating: *****

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