Day 1092: Commonwealth

Cover for CommonwealthIt’s difficult to explain what Commonwealth is about without either telling too much or failing to make it sound interesting. Yet, it is a very interesting novel about how one afternoon changes the lives of everyone in two families, or at least that’s partially what it’s about.

The novel begins when Albert Cousins, an attorney from the district attorney’s office, crashes a christening for Fix and Beverly Keating’s youngest daughter. Fix only vaguely knows Bert Cousins from his work as a police officer. Bert has crashed the party in an effort to get away from his own household with his three children and pregnant wife, Teresa, as he does every weekend.

But once Bert sets eyes on Beverly Keating, he decides she is his future. One kiss in the upstairs bedroom with a sleeping child begins an affair that results in divorce for both families.

The novel concentrates on the effects of this divorce on both sets of children. Although Carolyn and Franny Keating beg year after year to stay in California with their dad, they are uprooted to Virginia to live with their mother when she and Bert move back to his home state. Bert demonstrates again and again that he doesn’t care to be around his own children, but he wins custody of them for the whole of each summer, while Teresa gets a job and keeps it together the rest of the year by the skin of her teeth. The result is that the kids grow up with virtually no supervision, especially in the summer, when Bert leaves everything to Beverly, who can’t cope.

This novel reminded me in some ways of Jane Smiley’s Last Hundred Years trilogy, although it spans only about 45 or 50 years. However, it felt that the characters in this novel are much more knowable. I always enjoy Patchett’s writing, and her novels are all different from each other. I enjoyed this one very much.

Related Posts

State of Wonder

The Children’s Crusade

Early Warning


4 thoughts on “Day 1092: Commonwealth

  1. Naomi June 12, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    I have loved all of Ann Patchett’s books that I’ve read so far. This one sounds like another good one!

  2. whatmeread June 12, 2017 / 3:53 pm

    Yes, absolutely. I think my favorite so far is State of Wonder.

  3. The Paperback Princess June 13, 2017 / 11:08 am

    I always love reading her books until I get to the endings. The endings always feel…I don’t know if rushed is the word. They don’t match the rest of the work in my opinion. Hasn’t scared me off yet but do you find that this is the case with Commonwealth? Or is it solid all the way through?

    • whatmeread June 13, 2017 / 1:01 pm

      Hmm, that never occurred to me, and frankly, now I don’t remember. I have my reviews in a backlog, and I think I read this book back in January. But I don’t think I ever had that thought. Certainly State of Wonder took a turn at the end that was totally unexpected, but it was what I liked most about the book. Otherwise, I have read most of her books so long ago that I can’t really remember the endings.

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