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Commonwealth Audiobook

Commonwealth

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, September 2016 - The day I get to start a new novel from Ann Patchett is like Christmas to me. I can't wait to open the gift of her lyrical writing and then am sad when the book is over and wish I could relive the magic of experiencing it for the first time. My Christmas came early this year, as I got the chance to read Commonwealth ahead of publication, and will come again on September 13 when I listen to the marvelous actress Hope Davis perform the story. Davis narrated Patchett's last novel, and the return of this powerhouse combination is sure to have Commonwealth - a smart, funny, and heart-wrenchingly relatable story of two families coming together over the course of 50 years - at the top of the best seller and Best of 2016 lists. —Diana, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

The acclaimed best-selling 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 20s, 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.

©2016 Ann Patchett (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (5295 )
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Performance
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  •  
    J 09-19-16
    J 09-19-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Must Listen for Patchett fans"

    Ann Patchett has written a gem of a book- a pared down family saga that will live in my imagination for a long time. Commonwealth delivers segments of an arc, some overlapping, mostly out of order. Patchett trusts the reader to fill in the blanks, to intuit the shape of the whole. This is a novel about the power of story and the gravitational pull of family, and it packs a punch.

    I have loved everything I've read by Patchett, especially her nonfiction collection This is the Story of a Happy Marriage ( read it twice- it's that good) but this is definitely my new fave! Tremendous storytelling, wonderful characters, and some of the most well timed humor I've ever read in a novel. A must listen!

    30 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mel 09-18-16
    Mel 09-18-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Patchett and Me--In-sympatico"


    I have a thorny history with Patchett. The origin of my dislike of this good writer's books (many prestigious writing awards tell me so) began with me reading State of Wonder. I thought it repulsive and ridiculous--please don't hammer me for this honest opinion--I just found the visual of naked tribal octogenarians sucking sap from slits in the bark of trees grotesque, bizarre, highly nonsensical, and extremely off-putting. I'm midway between 80 and when I gave birth, and even if I had the desire to be pregnant and have an infant again, where would I get the energy? It wasn't my first Patchett novel; I'd read the very satisfying The Magician's Assistant and Bel Canto, before I got the glowing review that I just had to read SofW. That is where an OK relationship turned into UGH.

    Patchett is a very good writer, even in my H opinion, and obviously can carry a story through--I finished every book of hers I started; continued on even when the arthritic, saggy breasted women of SofW started gnawing frenziedly on trees. After that, I swore off Patchett, but here I am again and all because I know Patchett can write beautifully. I was hoping for more early experiences with the author, and got them. Commonwealth immediately draws in the reader with an opening scene that feels choked with sensuality and brass. The next chapter begins to tell the consequences of that day when a Cousins stole a kiss from a Keating in the nursery

    The story spans generations with a full cast that takes some skill to keep in order, especially because the story changes narrators, and with those changes, jumps times back then forward. This is a story of what if...how a single action can change the trajectory of lives and fortunes; in looking back what would we change and in the hopes of what kind of outcome.

    Good meandering story that looks at lives through a modern and realistic lens, and poses moments that will be identifiable with any reader.

    55 of 70 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bette 09-16-16
    Bette 09-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "READ IT"

    Hmmmm...people seem reluctant to review Commonwealth. Day 2 and no reviews!

    There's a reason for that.

    One of my all time favorite audio productions is Ann Patchett's 'State of Wonder' read by Hope Davis. They are a the dream team of audio books. Both are the expected perfection in this production of Commonwealth but the story it simply not listening material- it is a far too intricately patterned novel. After listening to first two hours twice, I began to consider a trip to wiki it for a clue about what was going on. Before taking such a drastic step, I decided to read the text reviews on Amazon. They are, of course, raves. I was convinced to forego the wiki spoilers, return the audible version and buy a hard copy.

    It's a nice effort, but some books are just meant to be read.

    57 of 75 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joanne McMullen Hershey, PA USA 12-29-16
    Joanne McMullen Hershey, PA USA 12-29-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't waste a credit"
    What would have made Commonwealth better?

    My rule of thumb, is after reading or listening to half a book and I don't have any interest in the characters then I stop reading or listening. Because I like other books Ann Patchett has written, I continued on with this one hoping it would get better. It never did.


    Has Commonwealth turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The narration was OK, not good, not bad.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom


    15 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betsey 09-19-16
    Betsey 09-19-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Patchett masters the modern family saga"

    Ann Patchett veers from her usual life in a far off place to weave a story of the blended family of modern America, connecting the lives of all six children whose pasts and futures become entangled when an uninvited guest finds his way to a christening party. Each character is fully developed to the point where you could recognize them at a cocktail party if you spent only a few minutes hearing about their lives. Hope Davis should be the only performer to make Patchett's words come alive - and could even play Franny if this books become a film. This book and the Audible version are Patchett's and Davis's best works yet.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 09-20-16
    Suzn F Fletcher, VT, US 09-20-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hang in There"

    Initially I found this book to be disjointed and had difficulty staying with it. I'm not sure if it's just the nature of the audio version, but the going back and forward in time and the many characters and with which family they belonged, at times felt like maybe it just wasn't worth it.
    Then the story came together and I found a pace and got into it. All progressed well until near the end when the plot unraveled and once again became disjointed. Overall this book certainly has redeeming qualities but I just couldn't commit.

    18 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-31-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Never wanted this story to end"

    Captivating. I have always enjoyed Ann Patchett but she has outdone herself here. A large cast of characters but all are fleshed out with smart and thoughtful dialogue. Can't wait for her next novel!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 09-21-16
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 09-21-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved It, Except For..."

    ...all the forward and backward in time, the too many characters to easily keep track of, and the constant tease to the reader about What Happened The Day Character X Died (a tease that ultimately, in the final chapter, comes to not much, a little bit like the mystery of What Happened the Day of the Barbecue in Liane Moriarty's recent Truly Madly Guilty). Overall, I did find the book impossible to put down--I was very, very eager to get to the end to see what happened that day, and what the outcome of the novelist's exploitation of the family story would be--but the ending left me disappointed and wondering, "Is that all?" Hope Davis's perfect performance as narrator (in addition to Patchett's trademark high writing quality) made me love the experience of listening, but overall I hesitate to recommend the book for reasons related to plot/story. Grade: B+. Bechdel test: Pass.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rita T Mobile, AL 09-18-16
    Rita T Mobile, AL 09-18-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Return to sender"

    I tried and tried to listen to this, but it was slow and just awful. Maybe it gets better deeper into the book but ... who can bear it that long? I am returning it for my credit back.

    16 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 12-31-16
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 12-31-16 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too hard to follow"

    This is a novel that moves back and forth in time, spanning different generations of an extended family. I found myself enjoying many of the scenes, but I got too confused about the many characters in different times, and so the pieces just did not come together for me. I listened to about three quarters of the novel, but did not care to finish it. I'm guessing that this is one book which I would have liked better had I read it instead of listened, as I could have reread more parts to avoid confusion. I can see why some people liked this, but it was my least favorite Anne Patchett novel.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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