The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt – Caroline Preston (2011)

A lovely and very different novel of a young woman growing up on the East Coast with a widowed mother and two brothers during the 1920’s. What’s particularly interesting about this particular book is that it is composed entirely of snippets and various scrapbooking bits and pieces to tell the story of Frankie’s life as she graduates from high school and moves on (thus the “scrapbook” of the title). Scraps such as old event programs, magazine ads that have been snipped out, locks of hair, old photos – all are gathered and arranged to further story very effectively.

Most of Frankie’s friends had traditional dreams of getting married and having children right after high school, and Frankie also would like that, but first, she wants to attend college and be a writer. However, life is not that easy and as the story details the twists and turns that Fate sends her way, the reader is drawn into the various ephemera that Frankie uses to illustrate her life in the scrapbook. Vintage clippings and other odds and ends all add detail to give a complete picture of her as she graduates from  Vassar and moves on to the next stage of her life.

This was really an interesting reading experience: the various bits that were used to describe the events of the story on each page had been carefully chosen and then placed artistically on the page. Lovely old typewriter fonts were used for the labels and I really did feel as though I was going through a vintage scrapbook of someone’s life.

One reviewer of this book added that the vintage scrapbook idea (of using multiple objects to detail a life and its many aspects) was pretty representative of the 1920’s in the US: it was when people started to experiment more, life was more prosperous now that the country had almost recovered from the Great War, and women had had a taste of career freedom which they could not forget.  Preston also does a good job of expressing the excitement and anticipation of a young high school graduate and then a college graduate.

If you have enjoyed the “Griffin and Sabine” books by Nick Bantock, or perhaps “Radioactive” (by Lauren Redniss) that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, then you would like this. The story by itself is not the most entrancing, but the addition of the pictures and other details that raises this book above that.

The author is an archivist for the Peabody/Essex Museum and for Harvard University so she has a good grasp of using the various historical pieces of social history and life back then. She has also had a lifetime hobby of collecting vintage scrapbooks which was put to good use here.

An enjoyable and quick read (or browse) of the early life of a young and interesting woman she navigates her way through her early adult years. This was a pleasure to look at and a pleasure to read.

Other reviews from across the Blogosphere:

* Sophisticated Dorkiness review

2 thoughts on “The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt – Caroline Preston (2011)

  1. Pingback: Review: ‘The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt’ by Caroline Preston

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