Commonwealth A novel

Ann Patchett

Book - 2016

"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"--

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Subjects
Published
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2016]
Language
English
Main Author
Ann Patchett (author)
Edition
First edition
Physical Description
322 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9780062491794
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

BOYS AMONG MEN: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution, by Jonathan Abrams. (Three Rivers, $16.) Abrams, a former Grantland writer, profiles the players, both successful and less so, who joined the league directly from high school. Some of the sport's biggest stars followed this path between 1995 and 2005, including Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett. THE GIRLS, by Emma Cline. (Random House, $17.)When Evie - 14, adriftand overlooked - encounters a group of enviable older girls in the late 1960s, she is soon drawn into a Charles Manson-like cult replete with squalor and sexual abuse. But rather than the group's charismatic leader, the object of Evie's obsession is Suzanne, a woman modeled on a reallife Manson devotee. THE BONJOUR EFFECT: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed, by Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau. (St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99.) As expatriates living in France, the authors learned firsthand the importance of cultural fluency. They approach their subject with anthropological eyes, focusing on the unseen rules that govern French speech: from the layered meanings of non to the art and ritual of dinnertime discussions. ANATOMY OF A SOLDIER, by Harry Parker. (Vintage, $17.) The story of Capt. Tom Barnes, a fictional British soldier in Afghanistan, is told from the perspectives of inanimate objects that surround him: a prosthetic limb, a tourniquet, dog tags. The fragmentary style of the novel suits its subject: Barnes was gravely injured during the conflict. As our reviewer, Benjamin Busch, put it, such narrators are "witness to a single casualty, their multiple perspectives finally forming a gestalt view of a soldier's journey from mutilation to recovery." STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road, by Rob Schmitz. (Broadway, $16.) Schmitz, an NPR correspondent based in China, offers a multigenerational portrait of his neighborhood, a former colonial and expatriate stronghold, using the stories of its residents: a struggling restaurateur, an elderly couple, a migrant worker. COMMONWEALTH, by Ann Patchett. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) A betrayal - an extramarital kiss at a christening - sets in motion the joining and unraveling of the Keating and Cousins families over the decades, with Patchett's novel following the stepsiblings over 50 years. "In delineating the casual blend of irritation and unsentimental affection among family members of all ages, Patchett excels," our reviewer, Curtis Sittenfeld, wrote.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Patchett's seventh novel (This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, 2013) begins with the opening of a door. Fix Keating expected all the guests, including many fellow cops, who are crowded into his modest Los Angeles home to celebrate his younger daughter Franny's christening, but why is deputy district attorney Bert Cousins, a near-stranger, standing at the threshold clutching a big bottle of gin? As soon as Bert, married and the father of three, with a fourth on the way, meets Fix's stunningly beautiful wife, Beverly, the foundations of both households undergo a tectonic shift. As Patchett's consummately crafted and delectably involving novel unfolds, full measure is subtly taken of the repercussions of the breaking asunder and reassembling of the two families. Anchored in California and Virginia, and slipping gracefully forward in time, the complexly suspenseful plot evolves exponentially as the six kids, thrown into the blender of custody logistics and ignored by the adults, grow close, like a pack of feral dogs, leading to a resounding catastrophe. The survivors grow up and improvise intriguingly unconventional lives, including Franny's involvement with a writer, which raises thorny questions about a novelist's right to expose family secrets. 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.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In Patchett's domestic tale, a stolen kiss at a christening party in the 1960s leads to a new blended family of six stepsiblings whom the novel follows over 50 years. Reader Davis, a well-known actress and frequent contributor to the radio program Selected Shorts, boasts a robust resume, but her vocal performance for this title is uneven. On the plus side, Davis's gentle and unpretentious voice is pleasant, and fits well with the muted emotional climate of the family. But in Davis's reading, it's hard to distinguish between the six siblings, and as a result the story as a whole falls flat. Only Caroline, the oldest and most combative of the children, comes across as uniquely individual. In a novel that depends so heavily on dialogue and characterization, Davis's monochromatic performance fails to realize the richness of Patchett's careful observations. A Harper hardcover. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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