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Book of the Month: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Commonwealth book cover

From the author of the award-winning Bel Canto and the highly acclaimed State of Wonder comes Commonwealth, a suspenseful and emotionally complex novel which provides further proof that Ann Patchett is one of the most versatile novelists of our time

Commonwealth begins in suburban California in the 1960s with possibly the most compelling opening to a novel we've read this year. Amidst the chaos of a Christening party, Beverley and Fig, both married, meet. What follows is a series of summers spent flitting between east and west America and a cauldron of six children, thrown together and left to their own devices. It is during this time, on one particularly long, hot day, that an incident occurs which will affect each member of this blended family for the rest of their lives.

Patchett masterfully weaves together the stories of each character as both families fracture, splinter and reconnect in varying ways through the decades. Jumping back and forth through the years she shows how each family member comes to terms with the part that they played in that pivotal childhood event and the impact it had on their adult lives.

The intricate structure of the novel ramps up the tension and keeps the reader on their toes but it's Patchett's brilliant observations, subtle humour and vividly drawn characters that make this story such a joy to read. Allegedly her most autobiographical novel, it's also perhaps her most emotionally profound, introducing complex characters and relationships that will stay with you long after you've finished the novel.

What Mumsnetters say:

“I started Commonwealth yesterday, and stayed awake until 3am to finish it. It's so beautifully written.”

“I'm just reading State of Wonder and can't put it down! Can't believe it has taken me this long to discover Ann Patchett.”

“I just finished Bel Canto and it was wonderful. I loved all the characters and it was really well written and plotted. I was sad to finish it.”

About the author


Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels, including Bel Canto which won both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Prize for Fition. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories 2006, and has written three non-fiction books. In November 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes. She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers and in 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.


Ann Patchett will be joining us to discuss the book during a webchat in late June (date tbc).


We have 50 copies of Commonwealth up for grabs. If you'd like to be allocated a copy and agree to join the discussion thread, apply by filling in the form below by midday, Monday 22 May 2017.