Sometimes you come across a book that is unlike any other you’ve read, and for me, this is exactly how I found Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. Published through Corvus Books back in August, this book has captivated me, it’s really rather charming, gentle and thought-provoking.
Be Frank With Me introduces us to Julian Francis Banning, otherwise known as Frank, the nine-year old son of reclusive author Mimi. When she was 19, she wrote a best selling novel and was thrust into the limelight. The book was made into a film, she married the star in a marriage that wouldn’t last the test of time as well as her book did. She hides away from the world in her Bel Air mansion, eluding her public.
It’s now 30 years later and Mimi is strapped for cash and she realises that she needs to produce another novel. The pressure is on for her to secure both her future and that of her son, a child, who views the world differently to those around him.
This is where Alice enters the fray, as she is sent to the Manning household to do everything possible to make sure the new novel is progressing well. Alice is to report back to the publisher Mr Vargas on the books progress and to look after Frank for Mimi.
In Be Frank With Me we learn about Frank, a boy who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the classic films of yesteryear and a dress sense to match. He’s an eccentric who doesn’t fit in at school. He has to be treated in a certain way, you can’t touch him or his things without his permission, he wears what he wants and has a tendency to take things and hide them away. He’s challenging and it takes a while for Alice and Frank to understand each other. I would imagine that Frank is autistic but this is very much left up in the air in the book.
While Frank and Alice work through things to form a relationship, it’s clear from the start that Mimi does not appreciate Alice’s presence in her house. Add in the mysterious Zander, who comes and goes with little thought to those around him. All four characters in Be Frank With Me have a past to face and move on from.
The story feels a little like a slow meandering river, but that’s in no way to say it’s not enchanting, because it totally is. There were times when my heart just went out to Frank, a child who takes his own path, has his own style and will not be broken by the world around him. It’s just charming.
I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link, if you’re looking for something a little different, then go and buy Be Frank With Me and let me know what you think. I really enjoyed it.
disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review