Ann Patchett | Fiction
Frivolous is the word that popped into my mind about mid-way through Commonwealth, and I will stay with it. Patchett writes about a typical blended family, with the various parents and step-whatever's, and the functional and dysfunctional aspects of the six children in the blend. And nothing interesting ever happens! Yes, Albie, the youngest kid, is fed Benadryl (disguised as Tic-Tacs) to quiet him down. Yes, Cal, the oldest boy, dies from a bee sting. Yes, Franny takes up with a famous author, Leon Posen, for five years. This is the exciting stuff. Yawn!
Reviewers are most intrigued about the relationship between Franny of the blended family and the 30-years-her-senior Leon Posen. There may have been some meat there, but Patchett spends little time in the relationship. The greatest possibility for intrigue is the book that Posen writes, which is very clearly the story of Franny and her family. This book, also called Commonwealth, sells to a movie house. When the movie comes out, there is understandable angst among the family members depicted. But only three characters actually go see the movie, and they walk out part-way through. A perfect metaphor for Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Even the movie is not compelling enough for the main characters to finish.