I liked Commonwealth but I think I could have loved it.
In the past the Cousins and Keatings are brought together one fateful day at a Christening party when Mr Cousins kisses Mrs Keating. After a few years of secret rendezvouses the Keatings and Cousins officially merge into one big, messy unit. This combined family situation begins to dissolve when one of the six children dies in an accident that is slowly revealed to the reader.
“He realized then what he had known from the first minute he saw her, from when she leaned out the kitchen door and called for her husband. This was the start of his life.”
In the more recent past Franny Keating, the baby from the infamous christening, begins a relationship with a fading literary star who uses her family secrets as a starting point for his newest novel. Albie Cousins, whose childhood deviance is frequently cited from both families, discovers his step sister’s family betrayal.
“Your mom doesn’t know about the movie, does she?”
“My mom doesn’t know about the book,” he said, “It turns out a novel isn’t the worst place to hide things.”
And in the present the patriarch of the Keating family is slowly dying of cancer and recounting a few stories from his past to his daughters. The other children, who have less interesting and less developed story lines, are briefly visited as Patchett goes through almost 50 years at breakneck speed. The time jumping (a well documented CaitlinD peeve) and the decades long story shoved into a scant 300 pages was a bit underwhelming.