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A well written epistolary novel inspired by the friendship of Flannery O Connor and Robert Lowell Truely epistolary back and forth back and forth not like Robinson s Gilead where she could have taken away the scaffolding and it hardly would have mattered I didn t know enough about O Connor and Lowell s actual relationship to understand when the novel was moving into fictional territories but I sure don t think they had a romantic relationship I lost something in the audio version I felt as if my reading were repeatedly hijacked by the actors performances how they interpreted lines, and the emotional cast they each gave to sentences I have come to really appreciate audiobooks in the past year, since they allow me to multitask, and my predilections are emerging But though I know of the recent report that claims a proficient reader comprehends the same amount whether audio or on the page, for me listening to an audiobook can be a rather passive activity This novel kept unfurling rapidly and the readers did the most of the work for me, and I never had that crucial experience of pausing, contemplating, and co creating the work as I read. My rating 2.5 of 5 starsA copy of Frances and Bernard was provided to me by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Netgalley for review purposes.An epistolary novel, or a novel written solely in personal letters mainly between main characters Frances and Bernard The novel is said to of been influenced by the lives of Flannery O Connor and Robert Lowell, however, Frances and Bernard are far from a carbon copy In an author interview with Publisher s Weekly, Carlene stated, I didn t want to write historical fiction, but I want readers to know that it was the temperaments, minds, and voices of these specific people that set me off The beautiful writing was the only redeeming quality of this book for me, and it was quite beautiful The story was heavily steeped in religious fervor I found both Frances and Bernard to be quite a bore and their fanatical beliefs and constant discussion of them was really quite tiresome As much personal details which are given in their letters there still managed to be a lack of connection between the reader and the characters themselves I would naturally blame the style of writing, however, I was quite fond of the letters back and forth to one another Reading a certain bit of the authors flawless prose was like a beacon of light, I only wish the entire novel shone brightly as a whole. @Download Book ⚹ Frances and Bernard ê Frances And Bernard Meet In The Summer Of Afterward, He Writes Her A Letter Soon They Are Immersed In The Kind Of Fast, Deep Friendship That Can Change The Course Of Our LivesThey 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 AboveInspired 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 Read this Read this now Romantic, beautiful and heartbreaking Edited After I finished this book, I considered re reading it immediately. I would never had thought that reading letters could prove to be so interesting till now This novel concerns the meeting and befriending of two person both artists and have a keen belief in God There to and fro in letter replies from their beginning stages till there final letter paints a picture of love for each other, faith and writing He s a poet soon to publish and she s a visceral writer from Iowa s workshop soon to possibly publish her first book As their worlds meet one sways towards than normal reflections on the others being There discussions on all things great and small godly and ungodly provided a great passage of reading for me and I am sure many may like this passage of time, transpiring of souls, these artists that both have an art form to pursue, can they handle a great long lasting relationship that will not interlope their craft and path.Excerpt Bernard I want to thank you for getting me out of the nunnery and possible getting me out of this other house of horrors And thank you for your book It s handsome But please do not mistake me for someone who has direct communication with God Also, I m a fiction writer My judgements are he judgements of a mortal, and they are hobbled by my earthbound obstinate insistence on the concrete You Know what I ve told you before You and i are so very different I am one word at a time, one foot in front of the other, slowly, always testing how sure my footing is before proceeding to the next sentence, with ruminative breaks for buttered toast and coffee Your poems make the old feeling of cowdom come over me stalled in a vast unconquerable field, alone, ruminating While you re Christopher Wren You ve made me commit the grave sin of hyperbole in trying to convince you of my esteem Christopher Wren Dear God So be flattered.Yours,Frances Michael is probably a much better Christian than me if i were as godly, i would not have decided to celebrate my last week of summer by swimming naked at night, but have you ever seen the moon waxing crescent, hanging low and white in the sky, and heard the breeze blow through the bushes and trees You feel as ripening and shining as the night you are in, and it s excruciating to stand there enduring nature God s instantiation, God s invitation as a spectator when you plunge yourself in the middle of it That felt sinful,to not plunge myself in the middle of it But his mind and his heart seem free of cruelty as he talked, i saw them as two gears connected by the same belt, a belt running at top speed, frequently hiccuping and flapping at the speed and the strain before correcting itself and grinding on.That is Bernard Review also More like 3,5 , I think.I have mixed feelings about this book I didn t really like the storyline I don t like love stories at all and I find them to be a bit boring Although this story isn t quite the typical love story, it still just wasn t working for me I didn t feel for the main characters and the abundance of Catholicism annoyed me at times.But then the writing style Oh, how I enjoyed the writing style Thought provoking, clever and just so beautiful, it was most certainly worth the lack of an interesting plot. It s not very often that I find in a novel two characters so deeply interesting and so fully human as Frances and Bernard are in this work Their relationship and it s gradual progression form the entire plot of this novel, and though it is only 200 pages, it succeeds in telling an engaging and complete tale.Since F B is told solely through a series of letters, Bauer trusts the reader to fill in some of the gaps in facts, the information the letter writers are witholding That trust in her readers makes the reading experience all the enjoyable We know that Frances s reserved manner will come into conflict with Bernard s impulsive style, so when it does it is all the rewarding.I can t say enough how engaging and sharp and dynamic and fundamentally human the two central characters are Their relationship evolves over the course of years, and seeing their authorial voices change in the letters gave me the feeling I was growing with them I would imagine most readers will grow to love both characters, but Frances was the most engaging to me Her biting wit made me laugh out loud even through emotionally difficult passages, and her active inner life makes her a great reader surrogate I was also so excited to see religious, thinking humans portrayed so humanely and thoughtfully As the book puts it, neither character is a demagogue or a rube I was totally surprised and charmed by this book, which at its end left in me an aching nostalgia for two lives I didn t even live This is well worth your time if you enjoy any sort of character driven work. Without hesitation the finest epistolary novel I ve read outside of the 18th Century, I read Frances and Bernard over an eighteen hour period while confined to a hotel room in Kansas City, MO on account of inclement weather , and was, ultimately, grateful for the layover by way of this book.Returning to their regular lives after time spent at a writers colony, Frances and Bernard, two ridiculously charming and intelligent characters, decide to start a correspondence based on mutual respect Their letters, they decide, may cover any topic except their work Over time, the two grow to love each other in the most compelling and meaningful way but, as they find increasing professional success, soon must choose between their passion for their writing and the ever growing and powerful affection they feel for one another.In turn, riotously funny, erudite, and tragic, Frances and Bernard is a charming 1950s New York City love story loosely based on the relationship between Flannery O Connor and Robert Lowell of remarkable wisdom that explores all the different ways two people can become connected to one another, the many and complicated ways that two people can love one another, all while also paying homage to the art of writing personal letters. A sophisticated epistolary exchange between two fictional authors, based on the not quite love affair between Flannery O Connor and Robert Lowell With or without knowledge of its historical inspiration, though, this is an erudite and affecting novel.Novelist Frances Reardon and poet Bernard Eliot meet at a writers colony in the summer of 1957 Frances senses traces of John Donne in Bernard s spiritual poetry, and Bernard loves Frances s biting satire about a group of nuns They begin a correspondence, discussing their writing but also, increasingly, their personal lives It is evident from the start that Bernard adores Frances, but Frances is slower to succumb to romantic feelings Whirlwinds can t love slugs is how she self deprecatingly phrases her dilemma Over the course of a decade and , they suffer mental illness, alcoholism, romantic betrayal, and loss of faith, but theirs remains the one great love affair of their lives.Intelligent and classy, but also a good old fashioned love story.Sparkling with wit and richly philosophical, this is a debut novel not to be missed.Rounded up from 4.5 I think this could well be a favorite See my full review at The Bookbag. So what we have here is an epistolary novel about writers who meet in a writer s colony, inspired by real life writers, and written by well, a writer Based very loosely on the real life correspondence of Flannery O Connor and Robert Lowell, Ms Bauer creates two characters that are sort of stand ins for the famous writing pair but not.The first thing the reader has to decide is, How much should the real O Connor Lowell story influence my reading My personal answer was, Not much Sure, O Connor was a fervent but non didactic Catholic with a flair for the ironic and allegorical, and yes, Lowell came from a Boston Brahmin family, went to Harvard, converted to Catholicism and wrote confessional poetry But there s where the similarities begin and end.Frances is from a working class Philadelphia family and is awarded the gift of good health here She meets Bernard, who has a far greater zest for life, and off they go Frances notes to a friend that maybe she was jealous of his ability to charm and be gracious and make it seem effortless, make it seem an extension of his intelligence While I tend to silently judge, or make an untimely crack Their powerful intellectualism rules the day and some of the meaty parts focus on their conversations about Catholic theology Curiously, neither start at square one, questioning the very existence of Christ or accepted dogma rather, they dutifully accept it and start at square two, mulling over how to be a person of faith Frances, by far the bigger believer, writes, I don t want to forget to say that it s a common mistake to confuse severity for spiritual radiance I think many religious folk mistakenly champion the importance of being ramrod Bernard, on the other hand, states, I did not like church but I wanted an absolute and I wanted its demands His fervor, he admits, was likely self adornment.The two bond over their communication on their writing, religion, their inabilities to strongly adhere to preconceived roles, their families, and their growing feelings for each other In real life, O Connor and Lowell were not lovers The book is almost a five star, but not quite Interestingly, as Frances and Bernard stray into less intellectual and emotionally wrought areas, they become to this reader slightly inorganic Perhaps it s the overlay of their famous real life counterparts that sets up certain expectations In any event, the holy friendship they might have been subconsciously enacting becomes of a run of the mill narrative That being said, I was still tempted to go up a star because of the powerful writing and brilliant ending.