Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
3 stars, 208 pages
ABOUT THE BOOK: Frances and Bernard is an epistolary novel that features mostly letters between Frances and Bernard (obv) but also between them and their friends. I liked that we got to see both sides of their letter writing. The two of them are both writers and they develop a correspondence based mainly on the craft of writing and on their Catholic faith. But their letters to their friends have more details about their every day lives and about their relationship with each other. They seem much more accessible in these letters, less abstracted. Frances and Bernard start out as friends, then their relationship grows sort of professional, and then it grows romantic. But when Bernard suffers from a mental break down their relationship is thrown into turmoil. I don’t want to give too much away, so there it is!
This was an interesting read as far as philosophy on faith (though that’s not really something I’m interested in). I also like their romantic relationship, which seemed very real and avoided being cliche. However, in their letters to each other, especially the early letters, they are a bit pretentious and judge-y of people less talented. For example, Frances writes to Bernard that she met a historical romance writer at a function of some kind. The language Frances uses to describe the woman is patronizing at best. The woman goes on and on about her writing process and how lucky she is that it comes so easy. Frances just hates her and tells Bernard that she doesn’t want to be like this woman, etc. BUT SHE IS. That was really frustrating to me. Frances is almost worse because she doesn’t see herself as pretentious or patronizing, just as reserved. This turned me off considerably, because I didn’t feel like I could connect to her at all. Ok, now the fun part!
ABOUT THE OUTFIT: My dear little writer, stuff Bernard’s letters and that manuscript you’re writing into this writer’s box. You can carry it anywhere like a purse (or a briefcase!), because what do you really need aside from your pen and a blank sheet of paper?
These loafers are comfortable and practical for days teaching your students or caring for your ailing father. This chain bracelet represents the bond that you have with Bernard. It is beautiful but weighty, not for everyday wear.
Slip into this bright, modest-length skirt. Pair it with this high-neck shirt that is just as reserved as you are. Pull on this polka dot sweater to cover your arms. In this outfit you are dressed for church anytime the mood strikes for prayer.
This scarf is printed with stainglass letters and reminds you of mass in the old Catholic churches. Wear this cross necklace close to your heart. You are always thinking of God and what religion means to you. You are Bernard’s saint, after all.