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Frankie and Stankie Paperback – 5 Apr 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (5 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747568146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747568148
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘Illuminating and provocative … wonderfully funny … A supreme stylist, her writing is never less than poised' -- Herald

‘Occasionally you come across a story you really don’t want to end. Barbara Trapido is one such storyteller’ -- Glamour

‘This book is like a film epic packed with myriad details, thousands of extras ... Trapido's ear is always faultless’ -- Spectator

‘This is a gorgeous book about growing up ... her narrative pitch finds the perfect subject ... A wonderful read’ -- Observer

From the Publisher

Shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Emily - London on 27 Mar 2005
Format: Paperback
I was seduced into reading Barbara Trapido for the first time by this autobiography-turned-novel about growing up in South Africa in the 1950s, the child of a German mother and Dutch-Jewish academic father.
This is fundamentally different from her earlier, lighter, novels I have now read. The politics of South Africa is so bizarre, she has no reason to rely on her usual juxtaposition of strange cause and effect, fatal coincidence and melodramatic characterisation. All she has to do, to create her well-practised sense of absurd but successful juggling, is to place the extreme politics of the time alongside the ordinary dramas of a girl growing up. People in custody are "suddenly beginning to manage fatal accidents... on the stairs, taking tumbles from upstairs windows". "Dinah's response ... is to join the madrigal group".
Reading this book helped me understand the recent history of South Africa better and what it felt like to live through a time when shocking events have become routine. The images are so strong it is almost as if there is a camera there. It all rings true, even though it benefits from hindsight. The character and her family are in that society but not quite of it. Her parents had dragged themselves out of Europe to escape all that, and their attitude towards Boers, she makes clear, is at first essentially snobbish. But for Barbara's generation, the only way was out - the trek to London is the inevitable end of this novel.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By L. Alpren-Waterman on 7 May 2004
Format: Paperback
In Frankie and Stankie, Barbara Trapido continues a trend for dark subject material, first glimpsed in The Travelling Horn Player.
This is the story of Dinah, growing up in South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. Living with liberal parents, she experiences apartheid with growing disgust, but nevertheless does not allow it to interfere with the importance of a first boyfriend, doing well in exams and finding best friends.
Frankie and Stankie is a marvellous book. Trapido's trademark light touch is wonderfully on display as characters, both average and extraordinary are brought to life beautifully. But underlying her usual vignettes is the history of South Africa. For those who know little about the country this is a fantastic introduction to exactly what the Boer War was, to the way in which the British and Afrikaans battled for supremacy, and the attempts to undermine the regime of apartheid.
Frankie and Stankie draws no simple conclusions, and does not lay all blame solely at one person's door. It attempts to document a past (albeit from a clear personal standpoint), and does so excellently.
This is a wonderful book, and I would heartily recommend it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 May 2006
Format: Paperback
Like the first couple of books in the 'Martha Quest' 'Children of Violence' series, this book covers the childhood, adolescence and early womanhood of a white girl growing up in the era of apartheid (Trapido's South Africa for Lessing's as it then was 'Rhodesia')

Both books explore the awful waste of humanity and human potential which apartheid brought - and how it crushed and stultified its proponents, even those who championed and upheld its tenets - as well as its devastating effect on the non-white population.

Both books also explore what it means to be a girl child, and to grow into womanhood in that community, and at that time, before feminist ideas had become more mainstream.

Lessing is much darker, mythic and visceral, whereas Trapido's wit, inventiveness and almost Dorothy Parker like acidity turns the same mixture into something much funnier - though equally as heartfelt, serious and truthful. She captures brilliantly the power and pleasure of schoolgirl friendships.

And i admired her ability to instruct in some of the complications of South African politics of the era without falling into the trap of 'delivering lectures' or using clumsy devices to give her readers a historical perspective - you know the sort of devices where one character will instruct or lecture to another character some crucial pieces of infomation, and you know this is only there because you, the reader, may not know the information and the writer needs YOU, not the other character, to know this!

In fact, Trapido did this all so well that I really can't remember exactly how she managed it - which means it worked splendidly and seamlessly!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 July 2005
Format: Paperback
Our reading group were generally enthusiastic about Frankie and Stankie, and most of us had enjoyed reading it. Comments like 'really lovely' 'entertaining' and 'so witty' flew about the room as we settled into a more detailed discussion. There was consensus that the terrifically dry style and the humour in the story, the pace at which it moved, and the subtle interweaving of stories made this a book was liked. The way it managed to entwine the entertaining and witty vignettes of family life with the more serious issues around the political changes taking place was cleverly done, although one of us would have liked to have had more emphasis on the political. Some of us though weren't keen on the way it meandered about without more structure and plot, and sometimes found that there were too many names and characters being introduced making it hard to keep track of what was happening to whom.
We thought that the title, the picture and descriptions on the cover were misleading, suggesting that the book was about Dinah and Lisa, whereas although Lisa figured strongly at the beginning, it was clearly Dinah's story. The way in which some characters fizzled out as the story progressed we found irritating too, as we wanted to know what happened to their lives too. But realised that this was in some ways realistic as seen from Dinah's point of view, and as we grow up the importance of different people in our lives - both family and friends -changes. The ending too was disappointing. We felt it would have ended better at the moment Dinah left South Africa, and that the 'Afterword' didn't sit comfortably with the rest of the book.
Even though few of us knew much detail of the history of events in South Africa, the story easily carried you along informing and explaining on the way.
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