the next good book


By Ann Patchett


322 pages

What’s it about? In the early 1960’s Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party with a large bottle of gin.  By the end of the party Burt Cousens and Beverly Keating cross a line they choose not to back away from.  Their actions that afternoon will have repercussions for both families in ways they can not foresee. This novel explores the next five decades in the Cousins’ and Keatings’ lives. In this novel Ann Patchett takes an unflinching look at a blended family.What did it make me think about? Ann Patchett does not back away from a difficult subjects.  In “Commonwealth” she explores the pain, and bonds of a blended family.  In particular-  I found the relationships between siblings over time really interesting. Should I read it? Ann Patchett never disappoints.  I found the first third of the novel slightly disjointed, but I enjoyed this book anyway.  If anything I wish the book had explored some of the characters in more depth. Albie was so interesting and I never really got to know him well enough.  This book is easy to read, and as always Ann Patchett has something to say. Quote- “ These days he worked for company out in Walnut Creek that made bicycles. He liked that.  Christmas he sent his mother a plane ticket so that she could come and sit around a tree with him and his daughter and his wife. Sometimes the popcorn and the fireplace and the endless hands of Go Fish would overwhelm her and she will have to excuse herself and go to the bathroom just to stand beside the sink for a minute and cry.  Afterwards she’d rinse her face and dry off again, coming back to the living room h=good as new.  It what she had hoped for but never for a minute what she’d expected.”

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