Ann Patchett’s latest novel, Commonwealth, is being released on September 13, 2016.
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.
The Library will have many copies and a waiting list for Commonwealth. Reserve your copy now. But while you wait check out these read-alike titles recommended by Booklist. These titles are available via any public library in Westchester County.
After This. By Alice McDermott, 2006
McDermott portrays, as does Patchett, an American Catholic family in an extradorindarily refined, through-the-decades saga that begins when Mary steps out of church on a wildly windy day at the close of WWII, hurries into a diner, and sits beside a stranger. They marry and raise four children, and McDermott follows their lives through a hurricane, hilarious classroom scenes, a premature birth, an abortion, military service, a life-changing college year abroad, and much more.
Carry the One. By Carol Anshaw, 2012
Patchett’s novel begins with a christening party; Anshaw’s tough, tender, and wise comedy of siblings, addiction, conviction, and genius begins with a chaotic wedding, accelerates to a disaster, and then follows several generations forward into lives steeped in guilt and in search of redemption.
A Family Daughter. By Malie Meloy, 2006
Meloy’s second novel about the Santerre family (after Liars and Saints, 2003), also Catholic, tracks the aftermath of divorce, as you Abbey is sent to live with her grandparents, an arrangement that catalyzes what becomes a dark sexual family secret that the adult Abbey, unnervingly alludes to in her published novel.
Oh Beauty. By Zadie Smith, 2005
In this boisterously funny, smart, and poignant family tale, Smith portrays the multicultural and multinational Belseys, who land in Massachusetts, where Howard teaches art history and relies on his practical wife, while their three children pursue divergent paths. A novel laced with canny inquiries into the evolution of family life shaped by social conflicts and conundrums.
A Spool of Blue Thread. By Anne Tyler, 2015
With charm, wit, and grace, Tyler creates a whirl of hectic family gatherings, disorienting crises, and abrupt domestic reconfigurations, which are punctuated by cutting insights into class, gender, age, and race as she follows several generations of the Whitshanks, who are passionately attached to the obsessively well-constructed house built by their patriarch.
Who Asked You? By Terry McMillan, 2013
In McMillan’s tale of a working-class family in Los Angeles, Betty Jean has a hotel job and cares for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted husband and her drug-addicted daughter’s children. Betty Jean’s older son is a doctor who maintains his distance from “the hood,” while her other son is in prison. Their lives are pointedly contrasted, over the course of many years and many changes, with those of Betty Jean’s financially better-off but no happier sisters and their families.
The Year We Left Home. By Jean Thompson, 2011.
Thompson takes a slide-show approach to the multigenerational family saga in this pithy, funny, compassionate, and resonant novel about the farming Eriksons of Iowa, who navigate weddings, a funeral, holidays, traumas intimate and societal, and successes and failures during the years bracketed by the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.