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Publisher's Summary

It is 1964: Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening uninvited, where he notices a heart-stoppingly beautiful woman. When Bert kisses Beverly Keating, his host's wife, he sets in motion the joining of two families. In 1988, Franny Keating, now 24, meets one of her idols, the famous author Leon Posen.

After telling him about her family, she unwittingly relinquishes control over their story. Franny never dreams that the consequences of this encounter will extend into the lives of her scattered siblings and parents.

©2016 Ann Patchett (P)2016 W.F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"There is a stillness and beauty to Ann Patchett's writing that takes the breath away.... Patchett's mastery of language is matched only by her narrative abilities." ( The Times)
"Enchanting prose and wondrous storytelling." ( Economist)

What listeners say about Commonwealth

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bek
  • 08-08-2020

Bit of a let down...

Prior to Commonwealth, I had just finished The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks (5/5 loved the story/performance, superb!). Commonwealth had been sitting in my library for a while but I hadn't yet got around to listening. After The Dutch House, I figured this was the perfect time to give it a go.

Initially it hooked me in, things started well, but then I started to notice the narration. I found the narrators voice so off putting, particularly the male voices. She tried too hard to do deep masculine voices and it just made these guys sound like unappealing chumps, which I guess by way of the story they were - but none had a single, likeable or redeeming trait to get me interested in them. Then, even the squeaky voices she put on for all the daughters started to drive me nuts too... Don't get me started on Fix's second wife Marjorie and Teresa Cousins voices... arghh!!

As for the story, it became a rambling crisscross bouncing back and forth between all the characters at different parts of their lives. It was a pretty unremarkable story really... adults mess up, families break up and it messes kids up, kids become adults and we see how it shapes who they've become. A sad but not particularly uncommon story these days.

Towards the finish, I realised there was nothing left unsolved, no final twists to be had or any light bulb moments. It just went out in a whimper with what was meant to be a final touching moment between two characters of whom I couldn't care less about.

So in the end I can't tell if the narration drove me so nuts which made the story feel weaker than it was, but I found none of the characters to be particularly interesting or remotely likeable. I wasn't rooting for any of them nor did I care about their plight or how they lived their lives.

I'd give it 2.5 stars - not here or there...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story. Engaging narrator.

Loved this saga of two families. Read well with good voices. Only draw back of listening in the car is I would have liked to draw myself a little family diagram. So many characters it was a bit confusing unless you super concentrate. Highly recommend though.

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Book Club selection

If you could sum up Commonwealth in three words, what would they be?

American soap opera

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

As an escape from the everyday, it was fine and I think it made me appreciate my own daily life.

Which character – as performed by Laurence Bouvard – was your favourite?

It changed as the book progressed.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Possibly the ending.

Any additional comments?

I did enjoy being able to listen to the book instead of listening to the radio to and from work. I find it hard to find time to read at home but did enjoy this for a change. Had I actually read the book, I doubt if I would have finished it. I did enjoy it more towards the end.

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Great story

A little hard going at first but once i got into it i couldn't stop till I had finished.

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Beautifully constructed story of a blended family

This story will resonate with so many people. Ann Patchett tells a story with so much patience and restraint but captures so much.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Voices

The voices for the characters were very unappealing
Hard to follow story
Here there and everywhere

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Unusual family saga

An enjoyable read, focussing on a split family and the issues they face over many years - was well written.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Found narrator difficult...

I am a big fan of Ann Patchett. State of Nature and Run are amongst my favourite novels. I don't rate Commonwealth as highly although I did enjoy it. I struggled with the narrator. She had a hard time with male voices and I think it would have been better for her to have read ing her own voice than to attempt a bad remediations of men.

Overall, the book was satisfying and I look forward to Patchett's next.

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  • Melanie Cilliers
  • 21-06-2020

Ann Patchet is a master

read all her books by now and never not satisfied... state of wonder also brilliant!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • LAA
  • 09-12-2016

Commonwealth

Sorry narrater.
Pretty OK story but hard to enjoy due to narrator's inadequate reading ability.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • jennifer
  • 14-09-2016

For the first time

Ann Patchett is a genius but the person narrating her audiobook is so painfully bad that I can't make it through the whole thing. It's genuinely distracting.

24 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • opinion
  • 16-08-2017

Can I say that this has been a bit disappointing

Likes; some of the writing is quite poetic and it is easy to read
A plot point is woven throughout the book.
I had some favourite characters. And there were some thought provoking bits.
Dislikes; a lot of pages describing the mundane tedious parts of day to day life, makes for a lot of boringness. Jumping from present to past with a tonne of characters. I thought that I was feeling confused because I was listening to the story, but friends who read it, also felt confused. All in all a dull book for me.

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen G
  • 06-04-2018

A struggle...

The narrators voice was irritating and made the story difficult to access . I wouldn’t recommend this one

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • susan lowes
  • 11-04-2017

dreadful marration<br />

childlike narration. ridiculous attempts at male voices. totally overwhelmed the story. read this yourself.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Roni Loveless
  • 30-01-2020

Worse narrator

I’d read up to halfway of this book on hard copy and was utterly loving it , I needed to finish it for my book group but had to multi task so decided to listen to the second half . The female narrator doing the male characters voices was awful totally ruined the image I had of them in my head . Such a shame as this is a fabulously written book but the voice was so jarring ,could not finish it on Audible had to go back to reading it .

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs S Kyriakides
  • 13-12-2020

What a disappointment

Up till now I have really enjoyed books by Ann Patchett but sadly Commonwealth has been a disappointment. Meandering story moving through different time zones with a host of characters - I never quite got to the point of it. And the final nail in the coffin was the narrator; she has a lovely voice but the voices she uses for the men and children in the story are excruciating. Such a pity.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Clare78
  • 14-08-2020

Commonwealth

It is an excellent story, which starts off a bit slow and gets better as it goes on. It’s well crafted and engaging, but the narrator is rather annoying (to say the least) and her various international vocal accents are verging on racist!! It sadly detracts from the story.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • A. L. Stevens
  • 21-02-2020

Narrator is terrible

After thoroughly enjoying the Dutch House I was keen to start this. I found the narrator completely off-putting. Her male voices are so bad they sound like insane Muppets. I can't listen to it. This is one where I'll be happy to simply read the book without audio.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hannah
  • 08-08-2019

Ending?

I was really enjoying this but then it just meandered to an end and felt unfinished which was a shame.
I read some poor reviews of the narration for this book. I thought it was excellent and not a distraction at all.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Margaret Carroll
  • 03-01-2020

Well read

I really enjoyed the book. Sometimes the narrator is very poor and spoils the story but Laurence Bouvard does an excellent job

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