Commonwealth

Commonwealth

A Novel

Book Club Kit - 2017
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"Commonwealth is the story of two broken families and the paths their lives take over the course of 40 years, through love and marriage, death and divorce, and a dark secret from childhood that lies underneath it all"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Harper Perennial, 2017
Edition: First Harper Perennial edition
ISBN: 9780062491831
Description: 10 identical volumes in tote bag ; 36 x 45 x 16 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

It all starts with a barbecue and a kiss. The parents and six children of the Cousins and Keating families are forever blended through divorce, family tragedy, and storytelling. - Mercy

Ann Patchett crafts a drama that starts with an illicit kiss that breaks up families, but explores the far-reaching bonds that form over the intervening decades.


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b
becker
Nov 21, 2017

The first chapter of this book sets the scene for everything that comes after it. It involves a bottle of gin brought to a Christening party, the resulting morality meltdown of the party guests and ultimately a forbidden kiss which changes the lives of two families. Afterwards, each chapter jumps ahead by decades and we follow the lives of these family members and their relationships with each other over time. I thought this was a great look at family life and how family members have the power to knock each other down and then turn around and save each other.

c
cknightkc
Nov 07, 2017

COMMONWEALTH refers to the state of Virginia where much of this novel’s action takes place, but COMMONWEALTH is also the name of a book within the book which traces the ripple effects of infidelity, divorce, and remarriage on the lives of the couple involved, their wronged spouses, as well as their respective children over a 50-year period. COMMONWEALTH is an astute commentary on today’s blended family, and is perhaps inspired by author Ann Patchett’s own life experiences. “Father Knows Best”, “Make Room for Daddy”, or “Donna Reed” it definitely is not. COMMONWEALTH is best consumed in concentrated chunks. Although an easy read, due to the many characters and episodic plot structure, this is not the kind of book one can put down for several days, then easily resume. I would recommend keeping a list of characters as they are introduced - it will save a lot of time keeping track of who is who and their relationships later on in the story.

w
writermala
Sep 06, 2017

The story starts with a christening where an uninvited guest changes the history of two families. The novel weaves around marriage breakdown, divorce, step children and step siblings. Three husbands, three wives, and six children are interspersed in each other's lives. One of the children, Franny, falls in love with legendary novelist, Leo Posen and slowly her life story becomes the plot of his novel and ends up being a bestseller and a movie. The plot of our book is intriguing and poignant. Definitely worth a read.

d
DorisWaggoner
Sep 03, 2017

I should have done as another reader did, and made a list of the characters, their characteristics, and their relationships. Even reading the book in two days, I had trouble keeping track of them. I never had this problem with "Bel Canto." Like the six children, I had difficulties forgiving the parents and step parents for what felt like their huge selfishness. None seem to think about the consequences of their behavior for their kids. The book is necessarily episodic, covering 50 years. Sometimes the holes this leaves in the story left me saying, "What happened?" Many episodes are wonderful, beautifully written even when I didn't get how it fit until something years later explained it. I especially liked Franny, whose christening party begins the book, and whose reluctant attendance at a Christmas party closes it. An interesting book, just not Patchett's best.

k
KatG1983
Aug 23, 2017

A solid book that follows 2 families over 2 generations, and how their lives intertwine.

AL_JANE Aug 21, 2017

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read with many characters and relationships explored. I will definitely look for other Ann Patchett books to read.

p
peacebenow
Aug 02, 2017

A well written story of 2 families (Keatings, Cousins) and how they merge and interconnect over the years. Has an unexpected twists and gradually reveals the dynamics of all.

s
sgcf
Jul 27, 2017

Although I needed to keep track of characters on a scrap of paper stuck in the book, I let myself fall into the story, trusting, knowing I was in Patchett’s masterful hands. (Loved her Bel Canto.) This story is all about character as they explore the drama of chaotic, ordinary life. The plot is a series of vignettes strung together through their differing perspectives, and is partly a metafiction when the family reads the book (called Commonwealth) written about their own family that is made into a movie. Gluing it altogether is Patchett’s clever insight and subtle wit into the family’s “commonwealth” – their “general good.”

HMWLibrary2017 Jul 14, 2017

Okay but not great. "Bel Canto" it isn't. More of yet another portrait of another dysfunctional family although this one told by a massively talented author.

b
brangwinn
Jul 05, 2017

Patchett continues to pull me into her stories. As I was immersed in the story of three families seemingly made dysfunctional by the affair and then subsequent marriage of a husband and wife, I saw how the adults’ behavior helped shape their children’s adulthood. I enjoy character-driven stories particularly when the author is adept at weaving complicated characters into the book.

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AL_MARYA Jan 18, 2017

Franny gave her sister a tired smile. "Oh, my love," she said. "What do the only children do?"

"Half the things in this life I wish I could remember and the other half I wish I could forget."

"All the stories go with you, Franny thought, closing her eyes. All the things I didn’t listen to, won’t remember, never got right, wasn’t around for.

“Isn’t that what everyone wants, just for a moment to be unencumbered?

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