Katharine S., November, Reviews
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Commonwealth: a nation, state, or other political unit

“It’s like this enormous tree had just crashed through the house and I was picking up the leaves so no one would notice what had happened.”

I read this book early last year, so details are a little fuzzy BUT, I do know that I LOVED it. I read it in one day, one sitting, becoming completely immersed in the lives of the Keating and Cousins family.

Ann Patchett is one of my favorite writers (if you haven’t read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, DO IT). She has a way of setting the scene that makes you feel as if you’re right there, which is exactly what she did in Commonwealth. From the first chapter, I could picture myself at Franny’s baptism, I could smell the gin, I could taste the oranges. And I was hooked.

While I’m not always a fan of stories where nothing happens, the character development and the relationships between these complicated families — not to mention Patchett’s beautiful writing — had me flipping the pages, eager to become as much a part of the Cousins/Keating clan as I could.

But while Commonwealth is undoubtedly a story of family, and one family in particular, it’s also the story of how a single person’s actions can reverberate throughout the rest of the family, and for years into the future.

As someone with a small family (one sister, one first cousin, one aunt, no uncles), I’ve always been drawn to portrayals of big, loud, messy ones (think “Parenthood,” “Brothers & Sisters,” This is Where I Leave You, “The Family Stone,” Little Fires Everywhere), and this one stuck with me. In fact, over a year later I still think of the characters, especially Franny, and wish I knew how they were doing. Ann, any chance of a sequel?

If you like escaping into someone else’s family drama, pick this one up. It’s particularly good for this time of year — a warm, cozy, absorbing read.

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