Here’s Ann Patchett talking about her writing process in Commonwealth.
1. The kiss at the beginning of the book is pivotal in setting in motion the fate and lives of the families involve. Do you believe that it was fate, like Bert Cousins, or choice?
2. How are the children affected by the divorce (of Fix and Beverly Keating, and Bert and Teresa Cousins) and re-marriage of Bert and Beverly?
3. What does the title of the book mean? And what does the title of the book suggest you about Patchett’s concept of family?
4. Fix and Bert’s personalities are of complete opposite, what are their differences in their relationship to their family and their world view?
5. Commonwealth contained many themes such as family, sibling relationship, love, death, divorce, marriage, fate, to name a few. Which theme was the most significant to you? Why?
6. Cal’s death by a bee sting was an event that shaped the lives of the family members. How did it shape and determine the direction of each family member?
7. How do you feel about Franny’s relationship with Leon Posen? Did the age gap and their personalities make it realistic?
8. Why did Franny get involved with a married man? What did Franny see in him?
9. What is it about Franny characteristics that makes her the center of the Keating-Cousins family saga?
10. What lesson does Franny learn after her betrayal of Albie by telling Leon the family story, in which Leon turns into a book?
11. Each family member had their way of dealing with Cal’s death. Holly ended up in Switzerland in a meditation center because she chose to meditation over medication. In what way is that a better option for her? Why does her mother question whether it’s a “real life”?
12. The book covered a long time period of 50 years from Franny’s christening party to when she is an older lady. Do you think that Patchett was successful in telling the story that covered such a time frame with a novel less than 350 pages?
13. The ending of the book left a philosophical thought. Did you enjoy the ending? Why and why not?
14. The author’s style of telling the story is non-linear and the plot unfolds slowly, how did this affect your reading of it? Was it successful in maintaining your interesting?
15. Did you find the book suspenseful? What did the author do to create theses moments?
16. What was your take-away from Commonwealth?
17. Have you read other books by Pratchett and would you check out other books by this author?