Book Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

It’s officially August, the “Sunday” of summer. We’re in the last full month of summer (break in my case), and it’s a little depressing. For me, the perfect cure for when I’m feeling a little down is a light read, which is exactly what I found in Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. This novel has been sitting on my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads for a short while, after seeing so much hype about it. Truth be told, the plot summary didn’t exactly interest me when I first read the inside sleeve, but what really did, was the book’s gorgeous cover. This is the kind of book I wouldn’t mind carrying around with me and flashing it around at a coffee shop, because it’s just so darn cute. For someone who’s heard the phrase “never judge a book by its cover” time and time again, I always find myself guilty judging books by their covers, and this one got me more than the actual plot did!

“It was about the inestimable burden of their lives: the work, the houses, the friendships, the marriages, the children, as if all the things they’d wanted and worked for had cemented the impossibility of any sort of happiness.” – Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

The novel begins at a Christening party for Franny Keating, hosted by her parents Fix and Beverly Keating. Albert Cousins shows up uninvited, kisses Beverly Keating, and realizes this is the life he was meant to live. The problem is, Fix is married to Beverly, Bert is married to Teresa, and combined, they have a grand total of six children…but this doesn’t stop Bert. This one kiss at a christening party manages to break up two marriages, while suddenly blending the families together and changing their lives as they know it. The story takes place over the course of several decades, showing how this one action affected them through adulthood.

“This was the pleasure of a long life: the way some things worked themselves out.”  – Ann Patchett, Commonwealth

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I had hoped. The overwhelming number of characters was my initial turnoff, followed by the fact that a portion of these characters were extremely unlikeable. Certain plot lines that I’m pretty sure were supposed to be heart-wrenching, fell a little flat on my end, and I don’t think I was feeling all of the emotions I was supposed to feel. What kept me going through the novel was the incredible character development of Franny Keating. While my feelings towards certain characters flip flopped throughout the book, I was constantly rooting for her, as she was just an all around great character, and also one of the funniest. In my opinion, Commonwealth didn’t exactly live up to all of the hype is was getting, but it was exactly what I was looking for – a light summer read. If you’re looking for a novel you can cruise through on a plane or a train ride, Commonwealth couldn’t be more perfect.


Rating: 3.5/5

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