Blog Tour Book Review: Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With Me PB coverAbout Be Frank With Me

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 6, 2016)

A sparkling talent makes her fiction debut with this infectious novel that combines the charming pluck ofEloise, the poignant psychological quirks of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the page-turning spirit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Full of heart and countless “only-in-Hollywood” moments, Be Frank with Me is a captivating and unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

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Welcome to my blog tour stop for Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson!  I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Be Frank with Me is a contemporary fiction novel about a young boy named Frank. Alice, is sent to Los Angeles by her employer to be an assistant to a famous, reclusive author thus enabling her to finish her long awaited second book. When she arrives she realizes that most of her job consists of caring for the author’s eccentric and stylish young son.

I thought that Be Frank with Me was a really good book. I fell in love with Frank right away when we first meet him in the prologue which takes place towards the middle-end of the book. I loved getting to know his character throughout the book just as Alice gets to know him. I felt bad for him throughout alot of the story because although he seems to have a pretty good relationship with his mother, it seems like alot of what he does is to get her attention and she doesn’t seem to give him as much as he needs. It seems like he has had to grow up alot because of the way that she acts. One thing I loved about all the characters in this book is that they are all flawed…they all have their past demons that still weigh on their present. This book was so good. There were fun moments, sad moments and funny moments. There were times when my heart just broke and when I broke out into a giggle.

I recently went to California for the first time so since most of this book takes place in California, it was really awesome to be able to picture the places the character’s go and I think that the author captures the smell and feel of the California air so wonderfully. It was also really interesting to see a young child talk about movies like Casablanca and Some Like Hot. It was really entertaining and a pretty short read…I read it in one day. It was charming, smart and funny. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a good, contemporary read…four stars!


Photo by Christa Parravani

Photo by Christa Parravani

About Julia Claiborne Johnson

Julia Claiborne Johnson worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines before marrying and moving to Los Angeles, where she lives with her comedy-writer husband and their two children.

Connect with Julia on Facebook and Twitter.

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