Frances and Bernard
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About the Author
Carlene Bauer has written for Salon, Elle, the New York Times Magazine, and n + 1. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"A story of conversion, shattered love and the loss of faith, recalling 20th century masters like Graham Greene and Walker Percy...Frances is refreshingly down-to-earth in her spiritual convictions...Bauer gets right... the shifting balance of literary ambition and emotional need, Yeats's old choice between perfection of the life or of the work. Bauer is herself a distinctive stylist who can write about Simone Weil or Kierkegaard with wit and charm. A fresh voice thinking seriously about what a religiously committed life might have felt like and perhaps, in our own far-from tranquil period, might feel like again." - New York Times Book Review "Graceful and gem-like.... Through Bauer's sharp, witty, and elegant prose, [Frances and Bernard] become vibrant and original characters.... These are not your typical lovebirds, but writers with fierce and fine intellects.... We are reminded of the power of correspondence -- the flirtation of it, the nervousness, the delicious uncertainty of writing bold things and then waiting days, weeks, or even months for a reply. After finishing this sweet and somber novel, we might sigh and think, 'It's a shame we don't write love letters anymore' -- before stopping for a moment to marvel at the subtlety of what Bauer has wrought out of history and a generous imagination, and being thankful that someone still is." --Boston Globe "Frances and Bernard portrays two writers drawn into a friendship sparked by mutual admiration. They elegantly convey their reflections, encouragements and chastisements in letters written over a span of 11 years...Bauer captures the style and language of the period with gleeful dexterity....Bauer is masterful in whipping up the frenzy of Bernard's unstable certainty that she is the answer to his Olympian quest...Bauer, who has published a memoir about her evangelical childhood and subsequent conversion to Catholicism, writes with authority and gusto about issues of faith. The prose here is exquisite, winding between narrative momentum and lofty introspection. And she employs the epistolary form nimbly, providing an intimate, uncluttered space for her characters to develop. The most unexpected pleasure of this period love story is spending time in the company of people who are engaged in the edifying pursuit of living as Christians -- a good reminder that, regardless of the current upheaval in the church, the big questions are still worth asking. -- The Washington Post "A debut novel of stunning subtlety, grace, and depth. Bauer's use of the epistolary form is masterful as she forges a passionately spiritual, creative, and romantic dialogue between characters based on two literary giants famous for their brilliant letters, Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell. Though she changes the particulars of O'Connor's life, Bauer retains the great writer's rigor, humor, faith, penetrating insights, and wisdom. Bauer is phenomenally fluent in the voices and sensibilities she so intently emulates, composing dueling letters of breathtaking wit, seduction, and heartbreak. Spanning a stormy decade, Bauer's piercing novel is dynamic in structure, dramatic in emotion and event, and fierce in its inquiry into religion, love, and art." --Booklist "There are so many reasons to love this perfect novel, not least because before our eyes, Bauer quietly reveals the lovers to each other, and to themselves, while she explores all of the important problems of faith, work, art, marriage, passion, and how best to lead the life that you think you're me --