Author: Ann Patchett
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source: copy received from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Plot 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.
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.
Add it to the "best of 2016" list! Commonwealth left me enthralled from page 1. If you've enjoyed Ann Patchett's books in the past (Bel Canto left an impression on me, making her newest novel sound all the more attractive), or if you just love a good family saga, this is your next read.
The family structure here is a bit more complex than "Brady Bunch gone bad," but I couldn't help thinking of America's favorite blended family as I read about the Keating/Cousins kids, who are pretty much the antithesis of the beloved Bradys. The fateful christening party mentioned in the book's description is the dynamite that blows this family in so many different directions. Patchett shows you this initial explosion, and then gives you a glimpse of how this affected each member of the family over the subsequent decades. The story is rich with regrets and guilt that will leave you wondering--what would have happened if Bert and Beverly never met on that first day? Would it have been for the better, or the worse?
If I had to pick one thing that makes this novel stand out, it's the fluidity as Patchett transitions between characters. There are SO many family members in the Keating/Cousins clan that it does, admittedly, get confusing at times. However, this made it all the more impressive that the narrative was able to move from one person to the next without requiring a designated chapter for each character (or even a page break, in many cases). The story lasts just long enough with each family member that your interest never falters, and you end up with a captivating drama that spans generations.
I can't express enough goodness about this book! Five stars, must read, go go go.
As always, much thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
HERE. And connect with Ann Patchett on her website and Twitter.