A family drama with an odd twist, Commonwealth is beautifully done. What would you do if you met your favorite author? What would you share with them? For Franny the answers to these questions affect the rest of her life in a way she never expected. Two families — torn apart by infidelity and forced together in a different configuration — face the future from a radically changed past. Patchett writes a deeply felt story of heartbreak, family, opportunity, privacy, and empathy. Lovely! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
This is the story of a not-so-Brady bunch and their 50-year journey. It’s what many would call a family drama, and they are not wrong. I love the fractured narration and the way Patchett brings a family together and takes them apart both through her story and by scattering the characters across the globe. I’ve often wondered what would happen if you asked each one of my family members to narrate the same event without fact-checking each other. I think it would go a little something like this. Recommended By Bry H., Powells.com
I sat in a restaurant by my office last night finishing Commonwealth. There was no way I could stop reading long enough to make it home. And when I did finish, I wished I could hug Ann Patchett, and give her many awards. This is both the best book of the year, and the best book she's written. Light, heavy, pacing, patient... it's everything. Recommended By Britt A., Powells.com
Ann Patchett always writes deeply enjoyable novels, and Commonwealth is no exception. Following the shared childhoods and divergent adult lives of the Keating-Cousins family, Commonwealth is a book about the deeply complicated nature of storytelling, and the ways in which we must continually rewrite what it means to be a family. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Commonwealth feels both contemporary and instantly classic; it's a beautiful, empathetic novel that manages to be surprising but somehow comfortable. With each new book, Ann Patchett just keeps upping her game. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Patchett brings humanity, humor, and a disarming affection to lovable, struggling characters... Irresistible." Library Journal
"Commonwealth bursts with keen insights into faithfulness, memory and mortality… [An] ambitious American epic…" Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Indeed, this is Patchett’s most autobiographical novel, a sharply funny, chilling, entrancing, and profoundly affecting look into one family’s 'commonwealth,' its shared affinities, conflicts, loss, and love." Booklist
"The prose is lean and inviting…A satisfying meat-and-potatoes domestic novel from one of our finest writers." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"…a funny, sad, and ultimately heart-wrenching family portrait…Patchett elegantly manages a varied cast of characters…[Patchett is] at her peak in humor, humanity, and understanding people in challenging situations." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
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.
Ann Patchett on PowellsBooks.Blog
When I finished writing my first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars
, I printed out a copy and mailed it to my father. I was 27 at the time, which means my father would have been 60. He had not yet retired from his career in the Los Angeles police department, and I had not yet sold a book. I knew from the short stories I had sent him in graduate school...