Monday, October 24, 2016


Shop Indie Bookstores

Commonwealth, Ann Patchett, Harper, 2016, 322 pp

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

My Review:
Ann Patchett's new novel!! All I want to do is gush but I will try to say something intelligent.

The story opens at a christening party. It is a family of Catholic cops and the Deputy DA shows up uninvited for reasons that are not clear to anyone. By the end of that first chapter you don't quite know what you have just read about but you do know it was unsettling and fun at the same time.

That is how it goes for pretty much the whole novel except quite a bit of sadness gets added to the mix.

Two divorces, six siblings and half-siblings shuffled back and forth between two sets of parents, unreliable adults, kids left to their own devices. It is tragic, sometimes humorous, and you cannot look away.

Never for one minute do you doubt that this is Ann Patchett. She has performed this trick for novel after novel. Not sentimentality, not sensationalism, and just a bit off from what we like to think about humanity and family and relationships and love.

She has a unique proprietary recipe for writing novels. Even as she exposes us for the moral weaklings that we are, she still gives us hope and reasons to believe that love is the answer. 

(Commonwealth is currently available in hardcover on the shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.) 


  1. I've read two great reviews about this novel, yours being one of them. I'll keep it in mind.
    BTW, did I tell you that, because of you, I want to read the Lanny Budd series at some point? I have already acquired five of the books at incredibly low prices. ;-)

    1. I am excited for all you are going to learn in those books!

  2. Nice review Judy, like the touch at the end. I'm always game for a Patchett book so I will get to it!

    1. Thank you Susan. You will be glad when you do!

  3. This one is actually next up in my reading queue. Can't wait to get started!