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Commonwealth
Cover of Commonwealth
Commonwealth
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"Exquisite... Commonwealth is impossible to put down."
— New York Times

#1 New York Times Bestseller | NBCC Award Finalist | New York Times Best Book of the Year | USA Today Best Book | TIME Magazine Top 10 Selection | Oprah Favorite Book of 2016 | New York Magazine Best Book of The Year

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.

"Exquisite... Commonwealth is impossible to put down."
— New York Times

#1 New York Times Bestseller | NBCC Award Finalist | New York Times Best Book of the Year | USA Today Best Book | TIME Magazine Top 10 Selection | Oprah Favorite Book of 2016 | New York Magazine Best Book of The Year

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.

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Subjects-
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    3
  • Library copies:
    3
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    6.0
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
About the Author-
  • ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician's Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and, most recently, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays.

    In November 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her partner Karen Hayes. She has since gone on to be a spokesperson for independent booksellers, talking about books and bookstores on "The Colbert Report," NPR, "The Martha Stewart Show" and "The CBS Early Show." Along with James Patterson she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

    Ann Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 9, 2016
    Patchett (State of Wonder) draws from personal experience for a funny, sad, and ultimately heart-wrenching family portrait: a collage of parents, children, stepchildren, siblings, and stepsiblings. In 1960s California, lawyer Bert Cousins divorces Teresa, leaving her to raise their four children alone; Beverly Keating divorces Fix, an L.A. cop; and Bert and Beverly marry and relocate to Virginia with Beverly and Fix’s two children. Visiting arrangements result in an angry, resentful younger generation—rebellious Cal, frustrated Holly, practical Jeannette, littlest Albie, bossy Caroline, kind-hearted Franny—spending part of summer vacations together. Left unsupervised, Cal takes charge, imitating grown-ups by drinking and carrying a gun, until a fatal accident puts an end to shared vacations. Patchett follows the surviving children into adulthood, focusing on Franny, who confides to novelist Leo Posen stories of her childhood, including the secret behind the accident. Twenty years after that conversation, middle-aged with children and stepchildren of their own, Franny and Caroline take 83-year-old Fix to see the movie version of Leo’s novel about their family. Patchett elegantly manages a varied cast of characters as alliances and animosities ebb and flow, cross-country and over time. Scenes of Franny and Leo in the Hamptons and Holly and Teresa at a Zen meditation center show her at her peak in humor, humanity, and understanding people in challenging situations. What’s more challenging, after all, than a family like the Commonwealth of Virginia, made up of separate entities bound together by chance and history?

  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 5, 2016
    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.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2016

    In this new novel by the beloved New York Times best-selling Patchett, Bert Cousins arrives uninvited at Franny Keating's christening party, recalling Sleeping Beauty's bad fairy and wreaking just as much havoc. He ends up kissing Franny's mother, Beverly, an act that eventually puts paid to both their marriages and joins the Cousins and Keating children in one big, genuinely affectionate bunch who look askance at their parents. When an adult Franny reveals her family's backstory to famed author Leon Posen, he turns it into a must-read book, which forces the siblings to reevaluate their lives together. With a 500,000-copy first printing and a 22-city tour.

    Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2016
    Two families are fused, atomized, and reconfigured by a stolen kiss, a child's death, and a bestselling novel.In her seventh work of fiction, Patchett (This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, 2013, etc.) turns from the exotic locales and premises of Bel Canto (2001) and State of Wonder (2011) to a subject closer to home: the evolution of an American family over five decades. The story begins on a very hot day in Southern California at a christening party for Beverly and Fix Keating's second daughter, Franny. A lawyer named Bert Cousins shows up uninvited, carrying a bottle of gin. With its help, the instant infatuation he conceives for his stunning hostess becomes "the start of his life." After Bert and Beverly marry and move to Virginia, the six newly minted stepsiblings are dragged unhappily into new relationships and settings. On another hot afternoon, one of the children dies from a bee sting--a tragedy compounded by long-kept secrets and lies. Jumping ahead, we find Franny in her late 20s, having an affair with a Saul Bellow-type novelist 32 years her senior. "Other than the difference in their ages, and the fact that he had an estranged wife, and had written a novel about her family which in its final form made her want to retch even though she had found it nothing less than thrilling when he was working on it, Franny and Leo were great." Since Patchett comes from a blended family with the same outlines as the one in this book, the problems created by Leo's fictionalized family history, also called Commonwealth, are particularly intriguing. The prose is lean and inviting, but the constant shifts in point of view, the peripatetic chronology, and the ever growing cast of characters will keep you on your toes.A satisfying meat-and-potatoes domestic novel from one of our finest writers.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2016
    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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal "This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer."
  • New York Times "Patchett brings every character in Commonwealth to luminous life."
  • New York Times Book Review "a family drama with a hint of metafiction at its heart."
  • Booklist "Ann Patchett's moving, beautifully crafted novel"
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "...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."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "[An] achingly real tale"
  • Marie Claire "Emotionally lucid. . . . Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle."
  • Pop Sugar Praise for State of Wonder:
    "An engaging, consummately told tale."
  • BookPage "... the emotional intelligence of Patchett's storytelling here feels warmer and richer and more resonant than anything she's done before." Rating: A
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution "close obervation, deadpan humor... Chekhov regularly invoked"
  • Washington Post "a wry, compassionate tale"
  • Hampton Sheet "[A] memorable, modern novel"
  • San Francisco Chronicle "Patchett's insight into the practical and emotional impacts of uprooting families is impressive... candid, poignant, humorous..."
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Patchett's slyly knowing voice - full of wit and warmth - elevates every page of this novel - one that, through the alchemy of her writing, somehow feels more than the sum of its parts."
  • Kansas City Star "Wryly humorous, intensely moving... this domestic novel is a book to savor from one of our finest writers"
  • USA Today "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."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Commonwealth is a smart, thoughtful novel about the ties that bind us."
  • Wall Street Journal "Reading Commonwealth is a transporting experience... It feels like Patchett's most intimate novel and is without doubt one of her best."
  • Houston Chronicle "Patchett cuts to the heart of existence in the age of divorce"
  • Christian Science Monitor "Patchett's storytelling has never seemed more effortlessly graceful. This is minimalism that magically speaks volumes..."
  • Knoxville News-Sentinel "Spinning ordinary lives into literary gold"
  • Los Angeles Times "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"
  • O, the Oprah Magazine "Commonwealth bursts with keen insights into faithfulness, memory and mortality... [An] ambitious American epic..."
  • Seattle Times "Extraordinary. . . . Is there nothing the prodigiously talented Ann Patchett can't do?"
  • Flavorwire Praise for Commonwealth:
    "Patchett brings humanity, humor, and a disarming affection to lovable, struggling characters... Irresistible."
  • Dallas Morning News "Patchett gives us funny, flawed characters, and the rich reward of Commonwealth is seeing their lives unfold..."
  • Spokesman Review "I couldn't put down Ann Patchett's terrific new novel..."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Wonderful... Patchett is a master storyteller"
  • Newsday "...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."
  • Asheville Citizen-Times "(A) rich and engrossing new novel ..."
  • Woman's Day "Wonderfully executed..."
  • Roanoke Times "Ann Patchett's gifts are more clear than ever in Commonwealth"
  • Chicago Now.com "Patchett's storytelling here feels warmer and richer and more resonant than anything she's done before."
  • Curled Up - Luan Gain's Review "Exquisite... Commonwealth is impossible to put down."
  • Curled Up - Michael Leonard's Review "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."
  • Read It Forward "Surprising, nuanced, complex and, above all, genuine."
  • The Entertainment Report "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."
  • New York Times "moving, beautifully crafted novel..."
  • The New Yorker "The book is...
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