Episode 71: Ann Patchett on Step Families, and Lasting Bonds

Bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—Ann Patchett delights us with stories from her childhood, the inspiration for her new novel Commonwealth.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how a chance encounter at a Sunday afternoon, gin-fueled party, 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 influences the rest of their lives.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Commonwealth took me right back to my own childhood, kicking around with my step brothers and sisters, and made me so grateful for my family. I hope you feel the same way about this book. Either way, I think you’ll want to read everything Ann’s ever written after listening to this conversation!

Get your copy Commonwealth from Ann’s bookstore, Parnassus Books, in Nashville and you’ll get a signed copy. They also have mugs, totes and an array of first editions.

Also, if you love dogs (hello Sparky!) and need to smile, check out Parnassus’s shop dogs here, the descriptions will brighten your day.

xoxo Angie

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  • Jenna

    There are some audio issues with this interview. I can barely hear the host’s voice but Ann Patchett’s voice comes across fine.