Monday, December 19, 2011

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Ecco (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0061966903
Published Oct 25, 2011
Hardcover, 240  pages

After I read BermudaOnion's review of this book I knew I wanted to read it. So I contacted the publicist I knew at HarperCollins and she promptly sent me a copy. Thanks so much!

I have never read a book like this one before, in the format of a scrapbook, telling a story through pictures, words, and full-color vintage memorabilia on every page. It was a treat for the eyes! Although I could have read this book in a few hours I really took my time and savoured it. Yes, this is a book to be savoured.

The story takes place from 1920 to 1928 beginning when Frankie Pratt gets a scrapbook as a high school graduation present. She finds her father's old Corona typewriter in the cellar and thus decides to write her story since she dreams of becoming a writer. She heads off to college and her journey takes her to New York and Paris until she finally returns to her New England hometown and finds what she's been looking for all along.

Frankie Pratt is an interesting character, adjusting to womanhood during a decade of many changes. Her trip to Europe is the most interesting to me as she experiences the expat life along with emerging American writers of that era, such as Hemingway. Frankie is courageous, forthright and adventurous but she is also vulnerable but level-headed. It's a great combination that turns her into a memorable character. She writes with a sense of humour and no wasted words. I loved her relationship with her mother, who knew when to step in and when to let go.

The setting highlighted by the collection of pictures assembled in scrapbook format really transported me visually to the vibrant culture that proceeded the Depression. I took my time looking at the pictures and realized how bold society had become as women shed their long (and sometimes confining) skirts of the 19th century and embraced the more risqué fashion and lifestyles of the 20th century. No wonder it was called the Roaring Twenties.

This is one of those books that can be read over and over and the discovery would be new every time as you probably would pick up on things you missed in the pictures. It's clear the author spent considerable time choosing the right vintage pictures of people, objects and events that stamped this novel with the footprint of the unforgettable 1920s, which come to think of it, is almost a century ago. This is truly a unique historical fiction book.

Note: This book is rated S for sexual references, nothing explicit. There are also two small medical textbook diagrams of the male organ (internal view and non-offensive) that was part of the marriage manual that college women received in Hygiene class. I thought this page was quite funny actually.

I will count this book toward the following challenges: TwentyEleven Challenge

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to Shannon from HarperCollins for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. I really want this one! Sounds so unique! Great review, thanks for sharing!

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed this book as much as I did. I definitely will revisit it in future as well.

  3. I loved your review! This one is a winner!

  4. I'm so glad you loved this book! I recommended it to my mother and she's reading it now and called me this morning to tell me how much she's loving it. She said it's bringing back lots of memories for her.

  5. I am so happy to stumble upon your blog. You have accomplished what I hope to accomplish. I started my blog just a few months ago but my guidelines were similar to yours. I look forward to finding many treasures here.

  6. I received this one and I can't wait to read it. I've heard great things about it.


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