Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

Caroline Preston's  book is a little unusual amidst the world of adult novels--the only reasonable comp I can think of would be the Griffin & Sabine books by Nick Bantock.  It's not quite like the graphic novels we're already familiar with, but it's not entirely dissimilar, either.

It's a gentle book, an old-fashioned book, both in the best senses of the words.  Frankie leaves home in Cornish, NH, in the 1920s and makes her way first to Vassar College, then to NYC and Paris, before she returns home to Cornish.  The text is minimal; instead we get copious amounts of vintage memorabilia and ephemera to illustrate Frankie's journey.

Along the way sheltered Frankie encounters romantic love (doomed and otherwise), privilege, antisemitism, and modernism for the first time in her life, and she's also witness to many important events of the 1920s, such as the publication of Ulysses & The Sun Also Rises, Charles Lindbergh's trans-atlantic flight, and the bohemian expat life of Paris's Left Bank.  (Frankie lives in an apartment above the iconic bookstore, Shakespeare & Co, and I was interested to read that its propietor, Sylvia Beach was the real-life godmother of the author's mother.)

This is an utterly charming adult novel that will have a wide crossover appeal for teen girls. I read an ARC, (advance reading copy) which is reproduced only in black & white, but I know the finished copy will be very pleasing to the eye with its full color spreads.  Adriana Trigiani called this book "a literary bottle rocket--loaded with whimsy, pizzazz, and heart" and I concur.  This book will be published in November by Ecco, and I received a galley of this book from my sales rep, Anne DeCourcey.  I look forward to meeting the author when she's at the Odyssey Bookshop next month! Odyssey favorite author Elinor Lipman, who will be on hand to do the author introduction for us that night, said of this book: "There is magic here and genius. I marveled at every page: at first, just the astonishing collection of souvenirs and memorabilia and then the story—so wry and smart and literary and historically fascinating.”


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