Commonwealth, Ann Patchett, 2016

A fine story teller, Patchett embeds a movie inside a novel to provide a different viewpoint on the complicated and painful events in the lives of the Keating and Cousins families living in California in the 1970’s. I read this book off and on over a couple of weeks and spent a good deal of time and energy trying to remember whose children belonged to which couple since eventually Beverly Keating and Albert Cousins left their original spouses to form another transient married couple.  At times feeling like Updike’s suburban lives transported from New England to California and from the 50’s and 60’s to the 70’s and 80’s, Patchett made her characters come alive but since I didn’t like them very much, I couldn’t get deeply into the book.  Cal dies young; Jeanette marries a Guinean and moves to Brooklyn; Holly goes off to a meditation center in Switzerland for 20 years, and Albie continues to be a lost soul.  Frannie marries Kumar and his two boys after a long affair with the Bellow/Roth-like Leo Posen, and Caroline becomes the high powered attorney her father wanted her to be.  Fix and Theresa die; Beverly and Albie soldier on.  A good, but not a great novel.