Frances and Bernard

Frances and Bernard

3.69 (1,661 ratings by Goodreads)
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"A novel of stunning subtlety, grace, and depth . . . compos[ed in] dueling letters of breathtaking wit, seduction, and heartbreak." "Booklist," starred review "A letter can spark a friendship. A friendship can change your life." In the summer of 1957, Frances and Bernard meet at an artists colony. She finds him faintly ridiculous, but talented. He sees her as aloof, but intriguing. Afterward, he writes her a letter. Soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can take over and change the course of our lives. From points afar, they find their way to New York and, for a few whirling years, each other. The city is a wonderland for young people with dreams: cramped West Village kitchens, rowdy cocktail parties stocked with the sharp-witted and glamorous, taxis that can take you anywhere at all, long talks along the Hudson River as the lights of the Empire State Building blink on above. Inspired by the lives of Flannery O Connor and Robert Lowell, Frances and Bernard imagines, through new characters with charms entirely their own, what else might have happened. It explores the limits of faith, passion, sanity, what it means to be a true friend, and the nature of acceptable sacrifice. In the grandness of the fall, can we love another person so completely that we lose ourselves? How much should we give up for those we love? How do we honor the gifts our loved ones bring and still keep true to our dreams? In witness to all the wonder of kindred spirits and bittersweet romance, "Frances and Bernard" is a tribute to the power of friendship and the people who help us discover who we are. "show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 195 pages
  • 152.4 x 210.82 x 25.4mm | 340.19g
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • English
  • 0547858248
  • 9780547858241
  • 516,749

Review quote

"Graceful and gem-like.... Through Bauer's sharp, witty, and elegant prose, ["Frances and Bernard"] become vibrant and original characters.... These are not your typical lovebirds, but writers with fierce and fine intellects.... We are reminded of the power of correspondence -- the flirtation of it, the nervousness, the delicious uncertainty of writing bold things and then waiting days, weeks, or even months for a reply. After finishing this sweet and somber novel, we might sigh and think, 'It's a shame we don't write love letters anymore' -- before stopping for a moment to marvel at the subtlety of what Bauer has wrought out of history and a generous imagination, and being thankful that someone still is." --"Boston Globe" "In her lively, intelligent new novel, Carlene Bauer creates two characters who are so present on the page, we seem to be eavesdropping on their conversation.... Their letters dance and sparkle with the passion of two minds delighting in each other.... It's a small gem, reflecting the rare joy of finding someone who is, quixotically, counterintuively and completely, yours." --"More" "Our fave new novel.... You'll laugh and cry [at these] oh-so-beautifully-written letters." --"Self" "Beautifully imagined." --Martha Stewart's "Whole Living" "Incandescent... A wholly original, fully fleshed, sparklingly alive, thrilling, moving, jam-packed epistolary novel of a mere 208 pages. I finished this novel in tears, not at all ready to have it end, but with the satisfied, enthralled sense that it had accomplished exactly, perfectly, what it needed to." --Kate Christensen, "Elle" "There are so many reasons to love this perfect novel, not least because before our eyes Bauer quietly reveals the lovers to each other, and to themselves, while she explores all of the important problems of faith, work, art, marriage, passion, and how best to lead the life that you think you're meant to live. "Frances and Bernard" is smart and clear and deep and beautshow more

Rating details

1,661 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 23% (385)
4 38% (631)
3 27% (452)
2 9% (143)
1 3% (50)
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