Frances And Bernard (Paperback)

Frances And Bernard By Carlene Bauer Cover Image

Frances And Bernard (Paperback)

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March 2013 Indie Next List


“The main characters in this lovely gem of a novel are loosely based on Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell. The story is told entirely in the form of letters -- not an easy feat, but Bauer makes it work beautifully. Frances and Bernard meet in the late 1950s at a writer's colony, and though they don't immediately click, Bernard sends Frances a letter that begins an intense philosophical, spiritual, and physical relationship. A true treat for readers!”
— Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Frances and Bernard meet in the summer of 1957. Afterward, he writes her a letter. Soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can change the course of our lives.

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, parties stocked with the sharp-witted and glamorous, taxis that can take you anywhere at all, long talks along the Hudson 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. In the grandness of the fall, can we love another person so completely that we lose 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.
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.
Product Details ISBN: 9780544105171
ISBN-10: 0544105176
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 208
Language: English

"A story of conversion, shattered love and the loss of faith, recalling 20th century masters like Graham Greene and Walker Percy…Frances is refreshingly down-to-earth in her spiritual convictions…Bauer gets right… the shifting balance of literary ambition and emotional need, Yeats’s old choice between perfection of the life or of the work. Bauer is herself a distinctive stylist who can write about Simone Weil or Kierkegaard with wit and charm. A fresh voice thinking seriously about what a religiously committed life might have felt like and perhaps, in our own far-from tranquil period, might feel like again." - New York Times Book Review "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 "Frances and Bernard portrays two writers drawn into a friendship sparked by mutual admiration. They elegantly convey their reflections, encouragements and chastisements in letters written over a span of 11 years…Bauer captures the style and language of the period with gleeful dexterity.…Bauer is masterful in whipping up the frenzy of Bernard’s unstable certainty that she is the answer to his Olympian quest…Bauer, who has published a memoir about her evangelical childhood and subsequent conversion to Catholicism, writes with authority and gusto about issues of faith. The prose here is exquisite, winding between narrative momentum and lofty introspection. And she employs the epistolary form nimbly, providing an intimate, uncluttered space for her characters to develop. The most unexpected pleasure of this period love story is spending time in the company of people who are engaged in the edifying pursuit of living as Christians — a good reminder that, regardless of the current upheaval in the church, the big questions are still worth asking. -- The Washington Post "A debut novel of stunning subtlety, grace, and depth. Bauer’s use of the epistolary form is masterful as she forges a passionately spiritual, creative, and romantic dialogue between characters based on two literary giants famous for their brilliant letters, Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell. Though she changes the particulars of O’Connor’s life, Bauer retains the great writer’s rigor, humor, faith, penetrating insights, and wisdom. Bauer is phenomenally fluent in the voices and sensibilities she so intently emulates, composing dueling letters of breathtaking wit, seduction, and heartbreak. Spanning a stormy decade, Bauer’s piercing novel is dynamic in structure, dramatic in emotion and event, and fierce in its inquiry into religion, love, and art." --Booklist "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 me —