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Check It Out: Commonwealth

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The book I’m recommending today is a story about stories, it’s about sharing stories and about some stories that we wish we hadn’t shared. Commonwealth, the latest novel by Ann Patchett ends with these lines (don’t worry--no spoiler alert is needed), “Now she understood that at some point far out in the future there would be a night just like tonight, and she would remember this story and know that no one else in the world knew it had happened except Albie. She had needed to keep something for herself.”

Patchett opens Commonwealth with this line:  “The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with [a bottle of] gin.”  In between that opening line and the ending line Ann Patchett writes a well-crafted novel of how the chance encounter at baby Franny’s christening leads to the break-up of two marriages and the reassembly of two families over five decades.  Franny Keating and her sister share memorable experiences each summer, as the four Cousins children leave California to spend time with their father and step-mother and grandparents in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

When, in her twenties, Franny gets to know legendary author Leo Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her sister and step-siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successfully book, forcing the now grown siblings to come to terms with their losses, their guilts, and the loyal connection that binds them together.

For other books by Ann Patchett, and other great reads that reflect on how stories bind us together, visit the Sioux City Public Library and check it out.   

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Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.

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