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Frances and Bernard

Cover of Frances and Bernard

Frances and Bernard

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Bernard Elliot, a poet, and Frances Reardon, a fiction writer, meet at a writers' colony during the summer of 1957 and begin a friendship and correspondence. Bernard, well-born and Harvard-educated, is gregarious, reckless, and passionate; Frances, the precocious daughter of a middle-class Irish family, is circumspect, wry, and more than a little judgmental. What starts as an exploration of faith eventually becomes a romance, a development complicated by Bernard's fall into manic depression and Frances' struggle to decide whether she is strong enough to weather the illness with him for the long term. The novel is anchored by two deeply imagined, fully inhabited characters who give voice to a love story that is as emotionally powerful as it is intellectually spirited.

Bernard Elliot, a poet, and Frances Reardon, a fiction writer, meet at a writers' colony during the summer of 1957 and begin a friendship and correspondence. Bernard, well-born and Harvard-educated, is gregarious, reckless, and passionate; Frances, the precocious daughter of a middle-class Irish family, is circumspect, wry, and more than a little judgmental. What starts as an exploration of faith eventually becomes a romance, a development complicated by Bernard's fall into manic depression and Frances' struggle to decide whether she is strong enough to weather the illness with him for the long term. The novel is anchored by two deeply imagined, fully inhabited characters who give voice to a love story that is as emotionally powerful as it is intellectually spirited.

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About the Author-
  • Carlene Bauer is the author of the memoir Not That Kind of Girl, described as "soulful" by Walter Kirn in Elle and "approaching the greatness of Cantwell" in the New York Post. She has written for the likes of n +1, Slate, Salon, and the New York Times.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 3, 2012
    Frances and Bernard are writers. She’s a novelist who studied at Iowa, Catholic, a bit prim, but tart-tongued. He’s a poet, descended from Puritans but a convert to Catholicism, prone to fits of mania. They meet in the late 1950s in a writer’s colony and become friends. If this sounds like Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell, it should: Frances and Bernard are their fictionalized avatars, with Frances the more fictional, since she’s neither Southern nor suffering from an incurable disease. Short but satisfying, this epistolary novel covers roughly nine years, as Frances and Bernard grow closer, at first through letters, then visits, always fending off questions from themselves and others about whether they could be more than friends. If Bauer makes things better for O’Connor than they were in actuality, she does it without cheating on her characters, who, whatever their real life inspirations, are fictional and obligated only to work in that form. Bauer’s debut novel (after her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl) is well written, engrossing, and succeeds in making Frances and Bernard’s shared interest in religion believable and their relationship funny, sweet, and sad. A lovely surprise. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit.

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    Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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