Monday, February 12, 2018

February Library Love Challenge - Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Welcome to February's Library Love Challenge hosted by Angel's Guilty Pleasure and Brook Blogs
Be Frank With Me was an unexpected joy and a hidden gem and I'm so glad it was chosen for this month's in person library book club read. I hope you read my review and if you haven't read it yet pick it up and I bet you'll want to chose it for your pleasure reading or your next book club read.


ISBN-13: 9780062413727
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 9-6-2016
Length: 320pp
Source: Library-Book Club read
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/Kobo/IndieBound/Audible



A sparkling talent makes her fiction debut with this infectious novel that combines the charming pluck of Eloise, the poignant psychological quirks of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the page-turning spirit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Full of heart and countless “only-in-Hollywood” moments, Be Frank with Me is a captivating and unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

Listen to a sample

My Review

Be Frank With Me
Julia Claiborne Johnson
Johnson’s debut is about as good as it gets. Its poignant funny and thoughtful, about love relationships and coping. Her expressive and witty narrative and unique storyline includes some well-timed humor and is part adventure part comedy and part tragedy resulting in a real page-turner chronicling the many calamities of Frank. The characters are all unforgettable but Frank is award worthy. He’s cunning and innocent, a conundrum and straightforward, precious and precocious and while reading I wondered how I would have handled the situations Alice was faced with - which many should have come with a “don’t try this at home” label. The relationship between mother and son and mother and the rest of the world frequently had me scratching my head but the author did a great job of filling in the many blanks by the end of the read. Fans of literary fiction featuring mother child relationships, comedy fans and readers who simply want a fantastic reading experience will be sure to fall in love with this marvelous book.
Over three decades ago M.M. Banning (aka Mimi Gillespie) penned a Pulitzer Prize winner then retreated inside her LA glass house never to be heard from again – until an unscrupulous fund manager strips her of her fortune. So she contacts her agent tells him she needs someone to take care of all the daily needs of her household that consists of she and her nine-year-old son while she writes the next Great American Novel.  When Alice Whitley’s boss sends her from NY to LA to help an anti-social literary giant work on her new book she’s not prepared for what greets her. She’s not as she expected to help the prickly author with her writing, but is however quickly reduced to glorified babysitter for the author’s eccentric young son, Frank.  Frank is a true challenge, he can’t be left to his own often destructive devices, has the intellect and social skills of Albert Einstein and the fashion sense of a 30s Hollywood movie star complete with prince-nez and Zuit Suit, but he quickly steals her heart.

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Meet Julia
Julia Claiborne Johnson worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines before marrying and moving to Los Angeles, where she lives with her comedy-writer husband and their two children.


  1. Fun challenge and read Debbie! Great review!

  2. Sounds like a really special book Debbie, not accessible to me on Audible but will keep an eye out for it.

    1. oh fingers crossed for you Kathryn because this is right up your alley

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It sounds interesting.

  4. This sounds quite good Debbie and refreshingly different.

  5. Oh, nice... I like that there is a lot of facets to this one.

    Yay for the library love challenge. I'm doing this one, too. :)