Commonwealth by Ann Patchett


Book Blurb from

Release Date: September 13, 2016

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.

My Review:

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.



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