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.
©2012 Carlene Bauer (P)2013 AudioGO, Ltd.
I always enjoy stories told through a series of letters. This story and the characters were well developed through the letters between Frances and Bernard as well as letters to their friends. I was initially turned off by the frequent references to religion but their religious devotion, or lack thereof, became almost a 3rd character in the book. The author had so many pithy insights. I often wished for a pencil and paper so I could record them. And I cried at the end-something I rarely do with a recorded book.
yes. It makes you ponder on some of the subjects they discuss and then makes you feel and even lets you have a good cry
it was unexpected
I like the 2 narrators. It added so much more
I started this book to find another 84 Charing Cross Road. It wasn't but I liked it as well. The book is a series of letters, an absolutely charming way to tell a story. While the method lends itself to lighter topics, this story didn't avoid difficult subjects which I appreciated.
Upper class intellectuals discussing religion. Yawn... The writing is lovely, but the subject matter was dull for me. I don't relate to being snobbish about writing and intellect.
I was very much drawn into the story and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to become of their friendship. I loved the way they described situations to each other so vividly. Our email-twitter life doesn't afford such writing very often.
I appreciated how real to life the story seem. I loved how they shared philosophical discussions and dug deeply into the meaning of things.
I really wish there hadn't been so much focus on religion in this work. I understood why it was there but it made it difficult to relate to or to sympathize with the characters at certain times. I also feel the letters were so often untrustworthy narrators that the events that resulted were surprising in a bad way. An okay read, and worth the price I paid but not worth more.
I did not know when I listened that the book was somewhat based on the poet Robert Lowell and the writer Flannery O'Connor...but it also diverged quite a bit from their lives (O'Connor was certainly not a Philadelphian). I found the story-told-in-letters technique engaging and the story went in ways that I didn't expect. Very enjoyable.
I hate to give such a tepid review to someone's hard labours but truly the story was just a story - unremarkable. I wanted to feel strongly for Bernard's handicap but somehow it just wasn't there.
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