The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston {Jenna’s Review}

Posted 29 January, 2014 by Jenna / 16 Comments

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston {Jenna’s Review}The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 240
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

For her graduation from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook and her father’s old Corona typewriter. Despite Frankie’s dreams of becoming a writer, she must forgo a college scholarship to help her widowed mother. But when a mysterious Captain James sweeps her off her feet, her mother finds a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of her unsuitable beau.

Through a kaleidoscopic array of vintage postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more, we meet and follow Frankie on her journey in search of success and love. Once at Vassar, Frankie crosses paths with intellectuals and writers, among them “Vincent” (alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay), who encourages Frankie to move to Greenwich Village and pursue her writing. When heartbreak finds her in New York, she sets off for Paris aboard the S.S. Mauritania, where she keeps company with two exiled Russian princes and a “spinster adventuress” who is paying her way across the Atlantic with her unused trousseau. In Paris, Frankie takes a garret apartment above Shakespeare & Company, the hub of expat life, only to have a certain ne’er-do-well captain from her past reappear. But when a family crisis compels Frankie to return to her small New England hometown, she finds exactly what she had been looking for all along.

Author of the New York Times Notable Book Jackie by Josie, Caroline Preston pulls from her extraordinary collection of vintage ephemera to create the first-ever scrapbook novel, transporting us back to the vibrant, burgeoning bohemian culture of the 1920s and introducing us to an unforgettable heroine, the spirited, ambitious, and lovely Frankie Pratt.

Fun, artistic, and unique historical fiction.

My Thoughts

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt isn’t a book I would have picked up if it hadn’t been a book club selection. The story itself is told in pictures – vintage memorabilia from the 1920s. A pretty unique way to write a novel!

I was both intrigued and skeptical. From the Goodreads description, I was expecting something more interactive – more like a Nick Bantock book; opening envelopes glued down to the pages and pulling out crisp, sharply-folded letters. Yet I wasn’t disappointed – even without those features. Still, I wasn’t sure just how the author would manage a full story using only scrapbook-style pages.

Small town girl with big world dreams Frankie introduces herself, her family, and her hometown through photos and clippings. She tells about her friends and classmates and being accepted to Vassar, but declining to proffered scholarship because even the reduced tuition would be too dear a price for her family. Instead, Frankie becomes a caregiver to an elderly woman in town whose grandson has been staying with her since returning from the war. Page by artistic page, her story unfolds and I really enjoyed the whole experience of reading the novel.

From New Hampshire to New York to France and back again, author Caroline Preston draws a rich story and fills it with a complex cast of characters who cross paths with Frankie over her journey from high school graduate to struggling writer and world travelers. It’s a memorable story told in a unique way – which really sets this book apart from other stories and novels on the shelf!

Girl with Book Lungs



Filed under: ESR: 8, Historical Fiction, Review: Jenna,


16 Responses to “The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston {Jenna’s Review}”

    • Don’t fear disappointment! It’s a fun read, truly. I mean, I know. I love the Bantockian version of books, they are so fun! So interactive! But “Frankie Pratt” is very well done, too. Some of the images even look raised from the page like a real scrapbook! :)

  1. I had my eye on this one ever since it was named an Alex Award book by ALA. I didn’t know the story was told through pictures. That’s really cool! I’ll have to check it out when I’m at the library.

  2. This book has been sitting in my TBR pile for awhile. Somehow, I had no idea that it was mainly an artistic display book and not a typical wordy novel. I’ve never heard of or read Nick Bantock, but I’m going to look into him. The idea of opening letters and such within a book seems so intriguing!

    • Agreed! The Griffin & Sabine books (six in all) are by Nick Bantock and they are so fun to read. Very artistic, but you also get to open envelopes and pull out letters and notes. So. Much. Fun. :)

  3. The entire story is in scrapbook form? That has me curious for sure! It sounds like it would be tricky to tell a story that way, particularly when you don’t actually know any of the people in the pictures like you would a scrapbook of your own life where a picture would definitely say more than words. Glad you enjoyed this one Jenna!

    • I’m not surprised that she was *allowed* but that she did! I have heard so many stories about girls in the 1920’s who had to leave school to find work and help support the families. Especially for Frankie Pratt, who lost her father and was being raised by her mother with her two brothers. Which makes it more surprising to me that she carried on to college, too!

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