Reading guide for Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Commonwealth

by Ann Patchett

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett X
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. How is each child—Cal, Caroline, Holly, Jeanette, Franny, and Albie—affected by the divorce and neglect that results?
  2. What does it mean to become a family again in the wake of divorce? How does each child grow to respond to the family difficulties?
  3. In what ways are the siblings good for and to each other?
  4. Bert believes that his divorce, all the difficulties for the children, and his marriage to Beverly were inevitable. "We're magic," he says to her. In what ways might this be true? To what extent does romantic love justify their decision?
  5. What influence did the time periods, especially the '60s and '70s, have on the behavior and decisions of the characters?
  6. What's added to the novel by the presence of Lomer, Fix's first partner on the police force?
  7. How does the ageing of the four parents—Beverly, Fix, Teresa, and Bert—affect their feelings and behavior regarding each other and the children?
  8. Franny falls for Leon Posen because of "the brightness in him." What might this mean? Why do you think Franny and Leo were willing to overlook their age difference?
  9. As adults, Jeanette suggests to Albie, perhaps in jest, that they create a family therapy plan for Holly and their mother. What does it take to repair and rebuild family relationships after so much division and tragedy?
  10. What do the various literary allusions (David Copperfield, The Return of the Native, The English Patient, T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock) bring to the novel?
  11. After writing his novel based on the life stories of the siblings, Leon Posen says "it's my book," while Albie asks, "how did he end up with my life?" What are the ethical and legal issues of the situation? Should there be regulations for writing about others without their consent?
  12. Fix believes, "There's no protecting anyone...keeping people safe...is a story." To what extent is this true? Why does he believe this?
  13. Holly chooses meditation over medication as away of dealing with and stress. In what ways is this a healthy response to her life? What of her mother's question of whether it's "a real life"?
  14. Among other things, Holly is attempting to find inner peace. To what extent does childhood experience determine who we become? How can an unsatisfying or unhealthy self be transformed?
  15. Beverly admits late in her life that "other people's children are too hard." What does she mean? In what ways is this true or not?
  16. Discussing their difficult past, Holly says to Teresa, "you got through it." What's the value of this? In what ways does each character go beyond this to remake his or her life?
  17. Bert and Beverly's kiss sets everything in motion for a lot of people who had no choice in the matter. How does that single decision shape everyone else's life?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Ann Patchett

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: White Too Long
    White Too Long
    by Robert P. Jones
    Religious scholar Robert P. Jones doesn't pull any punches in his latest book, White Too Long: The ...
  • Book Jacket: Caste
    Caste
    by Isabel Wilkerson
    In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ...
  • Book Jacket: The Deepest South of All
    The Deepest South of All
    by Richard Grant
    Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex...
  • Book Jacket: Piranesi
    Piranesi
    by Susanna Clarke
    Our First Impressions readers were delighted with this speculative novel by Susanna Clarke, her ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Blind Light
    by Stuart Evers

    A multigenerational story about two families bound together by the tides of history.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Agent Sonya

Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre tells the true story behind the Cold War's most intrepid female spy.

Enter


Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I M B T Give T T R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.