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Be Frank with Me Hardcover – 4 Aug 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus; Main edition (4 Aug. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782399186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782399186
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 879,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Johnson's magnificently poignant, funny, and wholly original debut goes beyond page-turner status. Readers will race to the next sentence. And the next. Her charming, flawed, quietly courageous characters, each wonderfully different, demand a second reading while we impatiently await the author's second work. --Library Journal, starred review

Witty dialogue, irresistible characters, and a touch of mystery make this sweet debut about a quirky Hollywood family an enjoyable page-turner. --Booklist

Readers will find themselves captivated. --People Magazine

Delightful. You will laugh out loud. --Slate

Johnson's magnificently poignant, funny, and wholly original debut goes beyond page-turner status. Her charming, flawed, quietly courageous characters, each wonderfully different, demand a second reading. --Library Journal

Sit back...and enjoy the show. --New York Times Book Review

Hilarious, poignant and full of unexpected gems. --Huffington Post

The curious incident of where'd you go, Salinger.

--Kirkus Reviews

Book Description

A funny, poignant and unforgettable novel about Frank - one of the most lovable and unusual characters you'll ever meet --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whilst Frank is the star of this story, Mimi and Xander are equally interesting and complex. There's sadness and humour in this story but mostly what's memorable is the characterization.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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By Jood TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Aug. 2016
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At the age of nineteen Mimi Banning had written a novel which set the world on fire, was made into a film and thrust her into a marriage with the star of that film – a marriage that didn't last. Thirty years on and Mimi, desperate for money is attempting a second novel, but has Frank, her son, who needs someone to look after him while Mimi is hidden away in her attic. Enter Alice, twenty four years old, sent by Mimi's publisher to babysit Frank and ensure the novel is completed on time. That's basically the plot of the story.

The description of Frank, a nine-year old boy with “the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star” was enough enticement for me to dive into this book. Sadly, it was not enough of engage me for long....

Frank is Quirky, a boy with a Difference; he has an encyclopaedic mind, but where does he learn all this stuff when he doesn't go on the internet, or visit the local library? He is also a film buff, especially old films, reciting word perfect dialogue and plot to a bemused Alice. He's probably somewhere on the autistic spectrum, but this isn't confirmed or otherwise. No-one is allowed to touch Frank or Frank's Stuff. Mimi and Alice don't hit it off, but it's unclear why, and Alice's romantic interlude is out of place.

Unfortunately the novel never really develops into anything as it trundles along on a straight line. Yes, Frank is charming, amusing at times, but more often than not, precocious. Alice is just plain boring, and Mimi hides herself away most of the time; whenever she does appear is implausibly eccentric. Who is Frank's father? Do we really care, is it important? Does Mimi complete her novel? I don't know, neither do I care.

I really did want to like this book, unfortunately it's now on the Reject Stack never to be read again. The one thing I do like is the ambiguity of the title. I can't say I didn't like it, but for me it's only just okay, hence the rating.
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Format: Hardcover
Nine year-year-old Frank is different to other kids. Fascinated with old, classic movies he channels his inner Cary Grant and Humprey Bogart, dressing with style and individual flair. He can quote huge chunks of his favourite movies and sees the world through the eyes of a old-style Hollywood director. When Alice comes to stay with Frank and his author mother, Mimi Manning, an unusual friendship forms as they learn to adjust their personalities to suit their living arrangements.

Mimi Manning is a reclusive writer, with a massive bestseller under her belt but has now been given the task of writing another. Herself and Frank have been hidden behind the glass walls off their LA home for years and neither are keen to have a young woman move in with them as the new book is written. Alice struggles to learn their quirkiness and each day brings new challenges. It is not long before she sees Frank's compulsive behaviours for what they are... He is a child who lives in the past. He dresses like a dapper 1950s movie star, accessorizes each outfit with a button hole or cravat, has an array of catch phrases and knows the best places in LA to shop for his vast, eclectic wardrobe. He may not be great with human interaction, but he is utterly charming in his eccentricity.

Alice is charged with watching Frank as Mimi holes herself in her bedroom to write the next great novel. Left to their own devices, there are plenty of hit-and-miss moments between the two. Frank doesn't like to be touched and Alice learns this the hard way. He is also not keen on having his 'stuff' touched, which makes things a bit difficult. However, after some initial teething problems, the unlikely duo settle into a routine.
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Format: Hardcover
Be Frank With Me, in common with several other of my "best" reads this year, is quirky, clever and funny and yet contains an underlying vein of sadness and social comment on what it's like to be different or accepted. What it also screams out is "Read Me", because the characters are an oddball mix of troubled, eccentric, enthusiastic and sheer delight in the case of Frank. They are all memorable, with their own voices and foibles that we are allowed to intrude upon over the period of time that Alice is sent to "assist" Mimi Banning with the completion of her latest book.

Mimi's first book became a modern classic, but she never published anything after that and decades later her publisher sends Alice to move things along when it becomes apparent that Mimi is writing again. What Alice unwittingly becomes is a focus for Mimi's distrust of outsiders and do-gooders (not helped by Alice's oft naive Pollyanna tendencies) and a surrogate Mother, sister, friend and confidant to Frank, Mimi's 9 year old son.

Frank is delightful, charming and heartbreaking in equal measure because, and in spite of, his exceptional intelligence, eccentricities and obsession with 1930's Hollywood films and sartorial precision. Think Noel Coward meets Fred Astaire with a pinch of Stewie Griffin from the Family Guy (but without the violent, matricidal and evil streak). Essentially Frank is different and stands apart, his condition (if there is one) is never defined although he appears to reside somewhere on the autistic spectrum. What is obvious is that he has a clear, straightforward and very literal view of life. He can't cope with nuances, humour, sarcasm or being touched and he has to be in control of his world as much as possible.
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