Twelve-year-old Frankie Addams spends the end of a long summer sitting in the kitchen playing bridge with her six-year-old cousin, John Henry and the `coloured' housekeeper, Bernice. Her mother died giving birth to her and her father works all day and most of the evening at his jewellery store.
Frankie has a wild imagination, deep feelings and a strong but dreamy intelligence. Her older brother is about to get married and she fixes upon the idea that he and his wife will take her with them on their honeymoon.
With faultless depth of understanding and insight, Carson McCullers allows her readers to see what it is like to be twelve years old, on the brink of being someone different, but unable to understand how such a thing can come about. Frankie doesn't understand how the world works, but Bernice who has been married three times, does, and she tries to impart what wisdom she can to the girl placed in her charge. Frankie is wilful, obstinate and heart-breakingly naïve and some of the situations she places herself in would give a modern parent palpitations.
This is quite a short novel, but entrancingly beautiful, with prose that haunts like poetry. It is a masterpiece, bringing a time, a place and a culture blazingly, brilliantly to life.