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June book of the month: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Chat to the author on Tuesday 27 June, 9-10pm

(87 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 15-May-17 17:23:54

We're delighted to announce our June Book of the month will be Ann Patchett's latest novel Commonwealth. We gave away 50 copies and Ann will be joining us for a webchat at the end of June to discuss the book (date tbc).

Many readers will be familiar with Ann's previous novels which include the brilliant and award winning Bel Canto and much acclaimed novel State of Wonder. In her latest book she masterfully weaves together the story of a fractured and dysfunctional family, sweeping generations and spanning the width of the USA. Sharply observed, funny, tragic and evocative, Commonwealth proves that Ann Patchett is one of the most versatile novelists of our generation.

Find out more about the book and feel free to post up your thoughts about the book and questions for Ann on this thread. We'll post as soon as have a date scheduled for the webchat.

Buy the book from £2.84

Indigosalt Fri 19-May-17 12:26:24

This one's on my wish list as I ejoyed Bel Canto very much. Have applied. Fingers crossed!

Tanaqui Fri 19-May-17 12:36:53

Me too- has been reccomended a few times on the 50 books thread and our Overdrive didn't have a copy!

FairyPenguin Fri 19-May-17 19:00:12

I have read both Bel Canto and State of Wonder, and really enjoyed them both. I would love to read Commonwealth.

iamEarthymama Sun 21-May-17 06:08:45

I really hope I am chosen to read this, I enjoyed Bel Canto

CoconutMatting Sat 27-May-17 14:31:36

I love Ann Patchett! State of Wonder was a work of genius.

Have applied for your competition, so fingers and eyes crossed.

SnapCackleFlop Sat 10-Jun-17 14:53:02

Delighted to have been given a copy of this book. I'd never read anything by Ann Patchette before and enjoyed it so much.

I loved all the different characters, the way relationships change and mature with time and the circumstances of growing up and aging.

So much great stuff in this book - easy to read and a super holiday read. Intelligent and insigntful 😊

gailforce1 Mon 12-Jun-17 18:27:38

Thank you for my copy. Looking forward to starting it and watching out for the date of the webchat.

sunshinesupermum Wed 14-Jun-17 20:11:48

Thanks for my copy

FernieB Wed 21-Jun-17 16:15:28

Thanks for my copy of the book. I'd not read any Ann Patchett before and will definitely read some more. 'Commonwealth' was very enjoyable. The book begins with Bert Cousins attending a baby girls christening, but really it's the story of that girl and her siblings and their relationships with each other. The narrative jumps forward and back in time without warning and you can find you've read a paragraph before you've realised you've moved in time but that doesn't matter as it flows beautifully. A really lovely book.

coldflange Fri 23-Jun-17 08:55:45

Thank you for the book.

i had forgotten when the discussion date was - and planned to read it on my holiday. However looks like I need to crack on!

I'll make a start today - I am a fast reader smile

queenoftheschoolrun Fri 23-Jun-17 11:19:29

Thanks for my copy. Will make a start on it this weekend (another fast reader!)

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 23-Jun-17 14:33:42

Hey all, Great to see you're enjoying Commonwealth. The webchat with Ann Patchett is on Tuesday 27 June between 9 and 10pm. All those who join the discussion will be entered into a draw to win a FREE copy of July book of the month: Swing Time by Zadie Smith.

sumac Sat 24-Jun-17 14:11:15

Thanks for my copy. I hadn't read Ann Patchett before. I like the way the novel describes the small connections humans make with each other and their consequences.
The depiction of how parents focusing on their own needs can harm children is very interesting.
I felt uncomfortable with Franny and Leo's relationship. Franny seems so damaged.
The theme of using real people's lives in fiction is striking.
I recommend Meg Wolitzer's books if you enjoy Ann Patchett.

Reastie Sun 25-Jun-17 06:37:23

Thanks MN for sending me a copy of the book, finished it last night. I hadn't heard of the author before but found the book beautifully written. I enjoyed how it went through time showing how the various relationships developed and what became of the characters. It really made me think, especially Franny's wonderings to herself in the last chapter, about how different life can be if to just take small different choices and how much of a big impact this can have on the future. I think everyone knew an Albie when they were growing up!

I'd like to ask Ann did you always know what would happen to the characters as their life went on throughout the book when you started or did it evolve as you wrote it? Presumably the main story of the summer with the bee sting and Leo writing the book were there always, but I often wonder how novelists develop their book as they write it, as I think as you get inside the characters' heads and really develop them it might be easier to create pathways as you go rather than have everything planned out first.

lovetheweekends Mon 26-Jun-17 06:41:34

I was lucky enough to receive one of the free copies - thanks.
This is the first of her books that I have read.
I enjoyed the book and found it interesting from the beginning. It set the scene in how Bert & Beverly
met and how all the children's lives became intertwined. It was an interesting read about family dynamics between biological siblings and step siblings and also the parents.
It showed in larger families how the younger siblings are often treated and the fact that they all felt responsible for the tragic event that unfolded as a result of their actions.
I will definitely try some of her other books to read soon

queenoftheschoolrun Mon 26-Jun-17 10:35:16

I really enjoyed this book, thank you for my free copy. It explores the complicated, changing relationships between a highly dysfunctional extended family of siblings, step-siblings, husbands, wives and their ex-partners over several generations and how the tragic death of one of the children has a lifetime impact on each and every one of them.

I haven't read anything by Ann Patchett before so there's the added bonus of discovering a new author! So my question to Ann is: which of your books should I read next? Do you have a favourite?

BearAusten Mon 26-Jun-17 11:35:42

An intelligent, a particularly well observed novel about families and their deceptions, betrayals and irresponsibility. I cannot say I found it to be easy to read. I found it incredibly heartbreaking at times. The characters are all so damaged in varying degrees. Albie could easily be labelled a sociopath, but he didn’t have much of a real start to life did he? Overall, the Keating children seem to fair slightly better than the Cousins. Franny at least seems to end up in stable relationship within a warm, positive blended family.

The title ‘Commonwealth’ seems particularly weighted with meaning. When did you choose the title ‘Commonwealth’ for the novel? Was it when you had finished it or before you had really even begun?

Did you have any alternative titles for this novel?

What was the inspiration for writing this particular novel?

Do you have a work in progress?

Thank you for my copy of the novel. Excellent reading.

coldflange Mon 26-Jun-17 12:31:19

I finished my copy last night. Despite a hectic weekend I made time to read smile

I really enjoyed the whole storyline. I found that the characters were clearly depicted - I could almost see them.

Did find that I had to concentrate for the first few chapters as the timelines skipped and jumped back and forth - but then I got into it.

I wondered where the story was heading but then when it was revealed that the book was about a book it gripped me. I haven't come across any other story like that before now.

Overall I enjoyed the book and will look forward to reading more by this author.

Amydbarker Tue 27-Jun-17 06:42:24

I finished this book last night and throughly enjoyed it. I wouldn't normally chose to read a novel about American life but this had so much depth and was very well written. I wasn't sure about the first chapter but after that I was hooked and I loved the way it all stemmed from Franny's christening. I generally enjoy plots that skip backward and forward in time and focus on different characters and I thought this was done exceptionally well. I often finish a book thinking I would like to know more about the characters but I didn't with this novel. I would definitely recommend this and would like to read more by the same author.

OnlyRose Tue 27-Jun-17 18:08:38

I haven't read Commonwealth yet but I've really enjoyed Ann Patchett's other novels. So hello Ann, I'd love to know if you are coming to the UK on a book tour anytime soon?

cheapskatemum Tue 27-Jun-17 19:06:40

Finished the book and looking forward to the webchat. I found Bert an interesting character - why have so many children when you have no idea how or inclination to look after them?

aginghippy Tue 27-Jun-17 20:08:26

Thanks for coming, Ann.

I want to ask about guns. There is Bert's gun that Cal gets hold of and also Franny with Fix's service revolver towards the end of the book.

What gave you the idea to use the guns in the story in the way you did?

Pipstarz41 Tue 27-Jun-17 20:56:52

I was lucky enough to receive a copy - thank you. My first read by Ann and most enjoyable.

'Commonwealth' felt like a pattern or weaving - across characters and across time. As a reader I did keep thinking - where are we chronologically? As the book skips decades, characters, and locations.
So my question for Ann is whether she intended to write the book this way? Or when planning the book did you think chronologically of character development and events and then decide to go back and forth?
Thanks x

FernieB Tue 27-Jun-17 20:58:14

Albie intrigued me. He was often seen by other characters (adults and children alike) to be troublesome, disruptive and annoying. I wonder if he really was as difficult as they perceived him or if it was simply a case of him being the youngest and therefore always the baby of the group. Obviously, spending the summers being doped by your siblings wouldn't help his behaviour.

I wonder how Ann sees Albie?

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