Time for Book Club! Let’s talk Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett

Posted By Imaginary Book Club | 5 comments

As with all book clubs, a great part of the joy of our Imaginary Book Club is reading together and chatting about what we’ve read as a group. For more info on how our online book club work, and the many ways you can participate, hop over here or sign up to read with us.

Each month our #ReadWithIBC post is the place for a no-holds-barred, spoilers-allowed, debate-encouraged discussion of our latest read.

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Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

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  1. What influence did the ’60s and ’70s have on the behavior and decisions of the children? Could you imagine the children behaving similarly today?

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  2. How did the children – Cal, Caroline, Holly, Jeanette, Franny and Albie – each respond to the divorce (and resulting parental neglect)?

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  3. Where are the boundaries between a relatively happy childhood and a horrible one? Do you think the children were happy?

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  4. 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?

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