Book Club Reflection: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

15 Aug

My book club met when I returned from my trip and we talked about a book I greatly enjoyed, Commonwealth. Unfortunately, we were deeply divided on how we felt about the book. There were some who, like me, loved the book, and others who felt the best part was the cover flaps that could serve as bookmarks.

One common complaint we could all agree on was that there were too many characters. This became very obvious in the final chapter but even before then, it was a lot to keep track of. We all agreed some could have been deleted, like Father Mike and Beverly’s sister (whose name we didn’t even remember). Some readers felt that none of the characters were easy to relate to while some of us liked Theresa and Franny. One positive we could all agree on was that the time jumps were well done.

The title had a few meanings. The most obvious was a reference to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The second would be an allusion to the book Leon wrote. We felt that it took another definition, in this case referring to a group coming and working together.

The kids took care of themselves. Theresa was involved in her career and Beverly and Bert were involved in each other or themselves, never really paying attention to the kids. When Cal died, it proved that they’d failed at raising each other.

The two families did end up very close to each other. We found three solid examples of the families caring for each other. First was Albie’s involvement in Franny and Leon’s relationship. He cared for her a lot to point out what he saw as problems in their relationship. The second was Franny, Caroline, and Fix taking care of Theresa. This was the most obvious one to me and I thought it really highlighted their relationship well. The third was the close of the book when Franny went to visit Bert.

I felt so bad for Kumar at Beverly’s party. It must have been so demeaning but he took it like a champ. I was furious when Franny left him alone and went to visit Bert. Someone pointed out that it was paralleled to Franny at the beach house with Leon. Leon’s friends treated her like the help and Leon did next to nothing to help out. I would have liked to see her grow from that experience, but it was ironic to see the repetition.

The book Leon wrote was almost therapeutic for the family. It allowed Albie a way to talk about what had happened, a way for things to come into the open that had been ignored for so long before then I think the title as a reference to the book is appropriate, but I still like the community definition as a reason for it all.

It was fun to talk about this book with my club. Our next book is a title I read and reviewed a few years ago so I’m not going to re-read it. Get ready for a surprise and give me your best guess. I’ll give you one clue, it was a controversy when it came out.

Until next time, write on.

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9 Responses to “Book Club Reflection: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett”

  1. Laurel-Rain Snow August 15, 2017 at 11:09 AM #

    Okay, now I’m going to be on pins and needles until you tell us the next book’s title! I am pretty sure I must have read whatever it is…as I love controversial books. LOL

    I also loved Commonwealth, but parts of it were frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam August 15, 2017 at 11:38 AM #

      We’re reading Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman next. I’m not going to reread it but I want to do more research into the controversy surrounding its posting. Happy reading!


  2. Katy Goodwin-Bates August 15, 2017 at 3:53 PM #

    I liked Commonwealth a lot; coming from a boringly functional family myself, I love a complex fictional one so this book was exactly my kind of thing. But yes, there are a lot of characters and they’re not all necessary.


    • Sam August 15, 2017 at 4:51 PM #

      Glad you enjoyed it as well. I wonder if someone with a more complex familial relationship would find the book less exciting. Happy reading!


  3. Emily @ Reaching While Rooted August 16, 2017 at 12:58 PM #

    I love reading the entire book club’s take on the book! It is so crazy how so many people can have a different perspective on the same work.


    • Sam August 16, 2017 at 2:59 PM #

      So true! Especially when you think we all live in the same area and so many people know each other from temple or church. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy746books August 16, 2017 at 4:04 PM #

    I love Ann Patchett’s writing and have heard great things about this one. Sounds like it generated good discussion!


    • Sam August 16, 2017 at 4:12 PM #

      For sure it did. Which is refreshing after a few that generated no discussion. Happy reading!



  1. Book Review: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (4/5) | Taking on a World of Words - February 11, 2020

    […] books by Patchett reviewed on this blog: Commonwealth (and book club reflection) Truth and Beauty Bel […]


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