Friday, February 17, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

This was a really interesting depiction of two families whose lives become intertwined one fateful day.  Fix, a Los Angeles police officer, and his wife, Beverly, throw a christening party for their second daughter, Franny.  Bert Cousins, a deputy district attorney, married father of four with one on the way, shows up as an uninvited guest.  When he first lays eyes on Beverly, he wants her immediately.  They get together, move to Virginia with Beverly and Fix's two daughters and change the lives of both families forever.

In particular, Bert's four children spend part of the summer in Virginia with Beverly's daughters and the six children are essentially left unsupervised.  Ultimately tragedy strikes one of the children which affects their lives, and the lives of their four parents, forever.

This book also travels back and forth in time - we see Franny as an adult looking after Fix as he suffers cancer in old age.  We see the relationship she and her sister have had over time with Bert's four children and his ex-wife.  Franny had told the story of her family to a novelist with whom she was involved and eventually the story makes its way to the big screen and we see how Fix reacts to seeing it with his daughter on his 83rd birthday.  There are also chapters dealing with what happened to all of the children in the intervening years.

It's hard to summarize much more without giving away key parts of the story - but if you like books about complex family relationships, that are part humorous and part sad, you will enjoy this book.

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