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.
About the author
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three books of nonfiction. She has won many prizes, including Britain’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books.
A good character study of family dynamics and the messed up lives we lead. The book spans decades, characters are well rounded. Patchett is an accomplished writer who is able to show families in a true, if literary, way.
The story of two families brought together by one small event, an event that also tears them apart. Spanning five decades, the novel traces the effect of the event on various members of the family: both the adults and the children. Like a stone cast into a pond, it is not the original splash but the ripples that make the story heartwarming and heart rendering. Ordinary people and ordinary events turn into an extraordinary novel in Patchett’s skilled hands.
I chose Commonwealth because it is so well written. The book made me remember what it is like to grow up in a family with parents that are living their own lives and aren’t paying attention, with siblings growing up together , sometimes good to each other and sometimes harmful to each other, where situations occur that can’t be understood by a child.