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Commonwealth
Cover of Commonwealth
Commonwealth

#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.

#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.

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Awards-
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.

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.

  • Library Journal Praise for Commonwealth:
    "Patchett brings humanity, humor, and a disarming affection to lovable, struggling characters... Irresistible."
  • New York Times "Exquisite... Commonwealth is impossible to put down."
  • New York Times Book Review "(A) rich and engrossing new novel ..."
  • Booklist "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."
  • Publishers Weekly (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."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "The prose is lean and inviting...A satisfying meat-and-potatoes domestic novel from one of our finest writers."
  • Marie Claire "Wonderfully executed..."
  • Pop Sugar "Commonwealth is a smart, thoughtful novel about the ties that bind us."
  • BookPage "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"
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Commonwealth bursts with keen insights into faithfulness, memory and mortality... [An] ambitious American epic..."
  • Washington Post "Patchett's storytelling has never seemed more effortlessly graceful. This is minimalism that magically speaks volumes..."
  • Hampton Sheet "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."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "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."
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "moving, beautifully crafted novel..."
  • Kansas City Star "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."
  • USA Today "splendid new novel... Just try to stop reading. And you won't want to. Patchett is in stellar form."
  • Entertainment Weekly "... the emotional intelligence of Patchett's storytelling here feels warmer and richer and more resonant than anything she's done before." Rating: A
  • Wall Street Journal "close obervation, deadpan humor... Chekhov regularly invoked"
  • Houston Chronicle "Patchett gives us funny, flawed characters, and the rich reward of Commonwealth is seeing their lives unfold..."
  • Christian Science Monitor "a wry, compassionate tale"
  • Knoxville News-Sentinel "...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."
  • Los Angeles Times "Reading Commonwealth is a transporting experience... It feels like Patchett's most intimate novel and is without doubt one of her best."
  • O, the Oprah Magazine "Wonderful... Patchett is a master storyteller"
  • Seattle Times "Spinning ordinary lives into literary gold"
  • Flavorwire "[A] memorable, modern novel"
  • Dallas Morning News "Ann Patchett's gifts are more clear than ever in Commonwealth"
  • Spokesman Review "Ann Patchett's moving, beautifully crafted novel"
  • Entertainment Weekly "Patchett's storytelling here feels warmer and richer and more resonant than anything she's done before."
  • Newsday "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."
  • Asheville Citizen-Times "Surprising, nuanced, complex and, above all, genuine."
  • Woman's Day "I couldn't put down Ann Patchett's terrific new novel..."
  • Roanoke Times "Patchett's insight into the practical and emotional impacts of uprooting families is impressive... candid, poignant, humorous..."
  • Chicago Now.com "a captivating family drama"
  • Curled Up - Luan Gain's Review "Patchett cuts to the heart of existence in the age of divorce"
  • Curled Up - Michael Leonard's Review "[An] achingly real tale"
  • Read It Forward "a family drama with a hint of metafiction at its heart."
  • The Entertainment Report "Patchett brings every character in Commonwealth to luminous life."
  • New York Times Praise for State of...
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