Commonwealth Book Club Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions:

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?

Discover books by Ann Patchett!

Check out Commonwealth Book Review or find your next great read!

Here’s Ann Patchett talking about her writing process in Commonwealth.

7 thoughts on “Commonwealth Book Club Discussion Questions

  1. The most visceral reaction throughout the novel is “the ravages of time”. I’ve thought this at my own family celebrations after the dewiness of youth disappeared and reality set in. Many dream, but few have the idyllic life they imagine in their youth. At the same time, time can heal and soften the acrimony which tears people apart. The children go through difficult times, but the fact that they are happy in their adult life is gratifying as is the complicated and evolving relationships between the siblings. The “what if” passage near the end of the novel underscores the tremendous effect one decision can make in someone’s life…and it is a choice.

  2. I hope you’ve been enjoying your book club read. One day I will join a book club. I love the idea of being able to discuss a book with other readers. I like the fact that everyone brings something different to the table. Enjoyed being partnered with you for the Summer 2017 Comment Challenge for June!

    1. Hello Alicia!
      I agree with you too that people bring something different to the discussion. I love it when someone has a view that I haven’t considered. It makes for an interesting conversation!
      I have enjoyed being partnered with you for the Summer Comment Challenge for June. I hope to continue on building our relationship. 🙂

  3. It’s interesting that a single kiss spirals out to create an entire novel. Fate or choice? When I’m a realist, I pick choice/action. When I’m feeling romantic, I choose fate and destiny. =) Great questions, Dinh! How you’re enjoying your read.

    1. Hi Lonna!
      Patchett focuses on a few normal everyday event and tells us the consequences of them and how it impacts the family members in Commonwealth. She’s saying every little choice we make, however small they may seem, will result in changing the trajectory of the person’s lives.
      We can believe in fate/chance or that we make our choice.
      I am a realist too because I feel more empowered knowing that I make the decisions in my life.:)

  4. I haven´t read books of Pratchett. But I´m very interesting to do it after reading your questions of her book Commonwealth.
    If you want to see her best with fresh start in mind, are any books after her that you recommend more than other?

    1. Hello Johann!
      Commonwealth is my first book by Ann Patchett. You can check out Patchett’s novels here.
      I would suggest you first read Bel Canto because it received the PEN/Faulkner award and Orange Prize for fiction 2002.
      Her other novels include This is a Story of a Happy Marriage, State of Wonder, What Now, Run, Truth and Beauty, The Magician’s Assistant, Taft, The Patron Saints of Liars..
      Happy reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.