“Commonwealth,” by Ann Patchett is a really good book. Is it as good as the last two books I read by her, “The Magician’s Assistant,” and “State of Wonder,” which I thought were near PERFECT?!! I don’t think so. Is as as good as the four previous books I read by her? Most Definitely!!!
Ms. Patchett is a major talent. “Commonwealth,” is about the America I was surrounded by for over thirty years in beautiful southern California. Thankfully, I was never a part of it when growing up in the Bronx, nor did I fall into its trap when living in Los Angeles.
The culture of Los Angeles through the 80’s, 90’s and into the second decade of this century was one of divorce, broken families, and dysfunction. When I asked a friend, how often he talked to his parents he replied, “Probably every six months.” I talked to my parents, when telephone rates were high when calling long distance at least once a week if not twice. When the rates dropped, I might talk to them and my brothers 4 or 5 times a week. I made at least two trips home every year and sometimes as many as 5 or six. Some of my friends visited their parents maybe once every 4 or five years, but they always told me how much they loved them. Most of these friends I am talking about had parents who were divorced, some a few times over, and they all had stepbrothers and stepsisters.
“Commonwealth,” is about this dysfunction, and the effect it has on children and parents when they get older. Like all of Ms. Patchett’s books, this novel is powered by characters on steroids, beautifully writing, and a knowledge of her surroundings that is breathtaking. Highly, Highly Recommend.