An impetuous kiss leads to the dissolution of two marriages and to a blended family, in that the siblings are mixed together periodically and then separated to be mixed again at the next summer vacation or holiday. The newest novel from Ann Patchett examines familial relationships and how they change over time in a way that is neither too weird to identify with nor too stereotypical to seem real. When a writer dating one of the sisters appropriates their tragedy as grist for a bestselling novel, the question of who owns the memories arises. Do they change when opened up to the world? Do you forgive or do you cling to your version while facing that of others? These heavy subjects are handled with a light touch that is not dismissive, but rather allows the details to unfold in vignettes covering fifty years. This is a lovely book, written beautifully.
— Sydne, Atlanta
#1 New York Times Bestseller
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 seven 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.
Praise for Commonwealth: “Patchett brings humanity, humor, and a disarming affection to lovable, struggling characters... Irresistible.” — Library Journal
“Exquisite... Commonwealth is impossible to put down.” — New York Times
“(A) rich and engrossing new novel …” — New York Times Book Review
“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
“…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)
“The prose is lean and inviting…A satisfying meat-and-potatoes domestic novel from one of our finest writers.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Wonderfully executed…” — Marie Claire
“Commonwealth is a smart, thoughtful novel about the ties that bind us.” — Pop Sugar
“Commonwealth is an all-American family saga, but her touching and even-handed approach to themes such as family politics, love, the role of literature and the acidic nature of lies is buoyed by a generous sprinkling of matter-of-fact humor” — BookPage
“Commonwealth bursts with keen insights into faithfulness, memory and mortality… [An] ambitious American epic…” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Patchett’s storytelling has never seemed more effortlessly graceful. This is minimalism that magically speaks volumes…” — Washington Post
“Commonwealth represents yet another victory for Patchett. Readers will fly through it... the tale is so rich and the plot is so wildly addicting, readers won’t be able to put it down until they’ve turned the final page.” — Hampton Sheet
“The genius of the way Patchett approached Commonwealth is that it’s constructed like a puzzle… Maybe it’s another case of the tried-and-true adage: “Write what you know.” Because this book? It’s pure gangbusters.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Commonwealth is a sly book about storytelling, a story about a single incident - really two pivotal incidents - spun out over the length of a narrative constructed like a conversation but encompassing decades.” — Kansas City Star
“splendid new novel… Just try to stop reading. And you won’t want to. Patchett is in stellar form.” — USA Today
“… the emotional intelligence of Patchett’s storytelling here feels warmer and richer and more resonant than anything she’s done before.” Rating: A — Entertainment Weekly
“Patchett gives us funny, flawed characters, and the rich reward of Commonwealth is seeing their lives unfold…” — Houston Chronicle
“a wry, compassionate tale” — Christian Science Monitor
“…to create a story with 10 protagonists that spans 50 years - and at least five settings spread across the globe - is a balancing act that requires immense narrative skill, and Patchett never falters.” — Knoxville News-Sentinel
“Reading Commonwealth is a transporting experience… It feels like Patchett’s most intimate novel and is without doubt one of her best.” — Los Angeles Times
“Wonderful… Patchett is a master storyteller” — O, the Oprah Magazine
“Spinning ordinary lives into literary gold” — Seattle Times
“[A] memorable, modern novel” — Flavorwire
“Ann Patchett’s gifts are more clear than ever in Commonwealth” — Dallas Morning News