Ann Patchett: Commonwealth

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Ann Patchett's latest novel, Commonwealth, follows fifty-two years in the life of a large family. The idea of the book came to her because as a bookstore owner, she saw that what was missing from the shelves was the story of a big, modern family. But how to keep the names and characters straight with a family of this size and longevity, and so much divorce and remarriage? Ann believes the onus is on the reader to be interactive with the novel. Loosely based on her own family, she's also come to terms with who owns the stories she recounts. Her conclusion is – if she was there, the stories are hers to tell.

Read an excerpt from Commonwealth.