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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
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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3 1/2. Ann Patchett is an acquired taste, I have determined. This is the first time I've read any of her books, but I had read so many good reviews about this one, that I thought I'd give it a try. I found that this book moved too quickly and across too many time periods and too many time zones, and among too many people for my taste. It was hard to feel like there was any momentum going. And because of this, I couldn't really build up any affinity with any of the characters in the novel. It was interesting to see how Ann Patchett portrayed very ambiguous and non-functional family life - varied marriages, and amalgamations, and the history that the blended families developed with each other, but again it was done in so few pages, that I felt there wasn't much continuity. I like more background and character development in books than what I got here. If you like Ann Patchett, you'll probably enjoy this book. For me, I probably won't read anymore of her books.
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