35 responses

    • To my great shame, I must admit it’s the first Patchett I’ve read. There will be more in my future although interested by the fact that many who loved Bel Canto weren’t so keen on this.

      • This is the best Patchett I have read (have read Bel Canto, Run and State of Wonder). It was brilliant – perfect tone, never over emotional or dramatic but so insightful. Bel Canto is not as strong as this – all the others in fact have had great heights but I have quibbled as I read. Commonwealth was so assured.

  1. I absolutely adored this one too – and reading your review makes me want to re-read it. Glad to know she nailed the whole blended family dynamic. I am a child of divorce and have a stepmother and half sister, but I never lived with them and saw them once or twice a year for an hour or two, so it wasn’t quite the same. Plus, my half sister is 20 yrs younger than I am.

    • I thought that she wrote the sibling relationships wonderfully (whether they were step-siblings or not). In fact, I was so engrossed in the sibling stuff that I probably missed some of the broader themes (particularly examining the meaning of ‘commonwealth’ in the context of the story, and of course the whole ‘story-within-a-story’ element).

  2. Just bought this book last week—I loved Bel Canto and Ann Patchett is one of my favourite authors. I also have A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara) and Days Without End (Sebastian Barry) sitting on my bedside table—it’s the most inviting stack of books I’ve ever placed upon it!

    • The funny thing is that when I was little (and spending lots of time with theses families) it never really occurred to me that their situation was unusual (kids are far more accepting, aren’t they?). It’s only now, when I look back, that I think “Gawd! How did they pull that off?!”

  3. Oh, this does sound fab. I hated Bel Canto, do I’ve never really been interested in following her career but I have heard so many great things about this book I don’t think I can ignore it for much longer.

    • People I know that loved Bel Canto didn’t enjoy this so maybe Patchett’s style or focus is completely different in Commonwealth? I really, really love stories about families and relationships and this is about as perfect as they come. And the chapter when the kids go to the lake could almost be a short story – it’s complete and simply lovely.

  4. I haven’t read this but think I did request it for review last year (but must have missed out I gather). It’s on my ‘when I get more time’ list!

    PS. Interesting I know two couples who did the couple swap thing. And not in a tawdry way.

    • I requested it as well and didn’t get a copy (they must have been tight handing them out – their loss, I would be raving!).

      As a kid, it never really occurred to me that the couple/family swap situation was unusual – I just took it at face value and as long as I kept track of who belonged to who and who was at whose house that weekend, it didn’t matter. It’s only now, when I look back, that I think “Gawd! How did they pull that off?!”

  5. I love the way you kicked off this review. There can’t be too many posts where that anecdote is completely apt to recount! I have seen this book about, but this is the first review I’ve read. I just put it on my TBR list. When I get to it, I’ll let you know how I get on.

  6. I’ve read most of her novels and have liked them all. Glad to hear you loved this one!
    After reading your comments about Bel Canto versus Commonwealth, I’m even more curious to read it – I loved Bel Canto.

  7. What a great review! You even used some of my favorite quotes form the book. I especially love the one about Caroline being a bitch, but the one who always got things done. High praise!

    Patchett did a great job of writing characters who weren’t particularly likable, but I cared about them anyway.

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