Author(s): Carlene Bauer
He is Bernard Eliot: a poet; passionate, gregarious, a force of nature. She is Frances Reardon: a novelist; wry, uncompromising and quick to skewer. In the summer of 1957, "Frances and Bernard" meet at writer's colony. Afterwards, he sends her a letter, and with it begins an almost holy friendship told through an absorbing correspondence that chronicles - and changes - the course of their lives. Frances is hesitant where Bernard is insistent, cynical where he is quixotic, but in each other they find the audience they've been searching for. From their witty, early missives to dispatches from the long, dark nights of the soul, "Frances and Bernard" tussle over faith and family, literature and creativity, madness and devotion - and before long, they are writing the account of their very own love story. Inspired by the real-life friendship between two giants of American letters, Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell, yet with a warm charm and fierce intelligence entirely its own, "Frances & Bernard" is a sparkling tribute to the wonder of kindred spirits and bittersweet romance.
Two writers, one friendship, and an unforgettable correspondence. A glittering, smart and sassy debut of love, literature and letter writing.
"Dazzling and gorgeously written, Frances and Bernard features a pair of brilliant, complicated writers who present themselves to each other in letters that form the most exciting epistolary novel in recent memory. A slim book, it still seems to say all of the important things about friendship, faith, love, the literary life, and especially the costs of living as an artist while still inhabiting the real world. It's a marvel." Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Songs Without Words "I had ten pages left as the bus pulled into my home station, and I wanted to murder the driver for rousting me from my seat. Instead of heading home, I stood in the parking lot and finished the book right then and there. I did not merely love Frances and Bernard; I worried myself sick over them. And the prose! So delectable you could eat it for dessert." Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys and Any Bitter Thing "A truly original, very moving novel about how sometimes the deepest relationships in our lives are also the most impossible. The letters between Frances and Bernard -- which begin as witty, sometimes wary, and full of unusual confidences about love and spiritual matters-- explode with passion on the page. My eyes filled with tears. What a rich writer and two unforgettable lovers!" Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille: a novel of Monet and The Physician of London
Carlene Bauer is the author of the memoir Not That Kind of Girl. She has written for n +1, Slate, Salon, and the New York Times, and lives in Brooklyn.