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Book Review: Commonwealth

February 26, 2019

It's another week, and another book that took me traveling! If you're new to my weekly book reviews, you can catch up here! I was very excited to start this week's book, even if it only had be traveling in the US!

 

This week's book was Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I am a huge fan of Ann Patchett (Check out Bel Canto and State of Wonder for some other excellent Patchett reads!)

 

 

Commonwealth tells the story of two families, the Keatings and the Cousins. This sweeping family drama follows these two families across 50 years of their lives, detailing the twists and turns that come with mixed families. 

 

The story begins in LA when Bert Cousins shows up at the christening of Fix Keatings new daughter, Franny. When he kisses Beverly, Fix's wife, he two decide they are going to be together. 

 

The story skips ahead 20 years: we learn that Fix has cancer, Cal Cousins died from a bee sting, and that Franny Keating isn't living up to her potential. In a chance meeting, Franny meets Leo Posen, a famed author. The two shack up together, and after telling Leo about her family, inspires his newest best seller, Commonwealth. Seeing their lives played out in the novel causes both the Keatings, and the remain Cousins to lash out. This, in turn, sparks Franny leaving Leo.

 

The story jumps ahead again. Fix is still clinging on, Beverly and Bert are divorced, and Beverly remarried, and all the Cousin and Keating children are settled with either spouses and kids, or jobs. 

 

The story ends in Arlington, VA with Franny going to a Christmas Eve party at Beverly's house with her husband and step-kids. She leaves the party to visit Bert, and contemplates the little intricacies of life. She thinks of a memory from when her younger step brother was high, and the two watched the snow. She remembers not telling Leo this memory, and is glad she kept something for herself.

 

I was really looking forward to reading Commonwealth. I've been a huge fan of Ann Patchett, and so was excited to read another one of her novels. I found Commonwealth lacked some of the punch that Patchett's other novels had. The jumps in time caused some confusion, but I did like seeing how life played out for these two families. 

 

Patchett's style was a little bland, compared to Bel Canto and State of Wonder, my two favorites by Patchett. It still left me with a sense of catharsis at the end, when Franny tied the story together, but I didn't find myself rooting for any of the characters over the course of the novel.

 

I have to give Commonwealth a 3 out of 5. 

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