Culture Street

Books

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

On September 26, 2016

By Sophia Whitfield
Ann Patchett’s latest novel is an acute observation of the way split families form lasting bonds with shared parents and siblings.

One Sunday afternoon, Bert Cousins, deputy district attorney, is desperate to get away from his pregnant wife and three young children. He gives his excuse to his wife, pleading attendance at the christening of baby girl. He doesn’t know the father well, a cop he has previously had dealings with, but his sketchy friendship gives him a window of opportunity to retreat from his home life.

Turning up at the christening party of Franny Keating, he makes drinks for the attendees and before the night is out has kissed Franny’s mother Beverly and set the course for the next fifty years.

Two marriages dissolve and six children find themselves thrown together during summers in Virginia, Bert’s four children (two boys and two girls) and Beverly’s two daughters.

Spanning five decades, Patchett examines the aftermath of Bert’s encounter with Beverly. The Keating and Cousins children forge a bond in response to their parent’s lack of interest. But one summer a tragic incident mars their childhood forcing them apart and leaving them to cope alone.

Years later, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with famous author Leon Posen. He hasn’t published anything for some time and is being chased by his agent for his next novel. When Franny shares the story of her childhood with her lover, Posen writes his next novel based on her terrible story. It becomes an immediate hit, winning awards. News of the publication and its far reach begin to reach the Cousins and Keating children causing them to reach out once again for each other.

This is a compelling novel, full of recognisable characters. The sibling dynamics are so well drawn; perfectly flawed yet united in a strange alliance. A powerful tale of familial love.

Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.

You Might Also Like

Books

My Story by Jo Malone, the inspiring read to kick off 2019

By Sophia Whitfield

On January 11, 2019

Books

Vikram Seth's novel to be adapted for the BBC

Vikram Seth’s novel, A Suitable Boy is to be adapted for the BBC by screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace). Each episode in the eight-part series will...

On May 9, 2017

Books

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

By Sophia Whitfield

On October 6, 2015
 

Books

Su Dharmapala on the ethics of parenting

Saree is the second book from Australian writer Su Dharmapala. Following her debut novel The Wedding Season, this book promises a beautiful and touching story that begins in Sri Lanka...

On May 20, 2014

Books

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

There have been a number of terrific books written about pilgrimages. Each pilgrimage has been slightly different but they all share one common thread – walking numbs grief. Etta is...

On April 10, 2015

Books

Should we censor children's books?

By Sophia Whitfield

On December 14, 2015
 
Copyright © 2012 - 2020 Culture Street
Contact: info@culturestreet.com.au