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Book of the Week

Commonwealth

Commonwealth
by Ann Patchett

Review from Booklist: Patchett’s seventh novel (This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, 2013) begins with the opening of a door. Fix Keating expected all the guests, including many fellow cops, who are crowded into his modest Los Angeles home to celebrate his younger daughter Franny’s christening, but why is deputy district attorney Bert Cousins, a near-stranger, standing at the threshold clutching a big bottle of gin? As soon as Bert, married and the father of three, with a fourth on the way, meets Fix’s stunningly beautiful wife, Beverly, the foundations of both households undergo a tectonic shift. As Patchett’s consummately crafted and delectably involving novel unfolds, full measure is subtly taken of the repercussions of the breaking asunder and reassembling of the two families. Anchored in California and Virginia, and slipping gracefully forward in time, the complexly suspenseful plot evolves exponentially as the six kids, thrown into the blender of custody logistics and ignored by the adults, grow close, “like a pack of feral dogs,” leading to a resounding catastrophe. The survivors grow up and improvise intriguingly unconventional lives, including Franny’s involvement with a writer, which raises thorny questions about a novelist’s right to expose family secrets. 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. — Donna Seaman

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about the author: Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels, was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

Ann Patchett lives in Nashville with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky. In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes.  She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores on NPR, The Colbert Report (including the series finale), Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, The Martha Stewart Show, and The CBS Early Show, among many others. Along with James Patterson, she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Novels:

  • The Patron Saint of Liars
  • Taft
  • The Magician’s Assistant
  • Bel Canto
  • Run
  • State of Wonder
  • Commonwealth

Non-fiction Books:

  • Truth & Beauty
  • What Now?
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

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