The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

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Overview

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,...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The Oprah Magazine O
“In her whimsical mash-up of historical fiction and scrapbooking, Caroline Preston uses vintage images and artifacts, paper ephemera and flapper-era souvenirs.... Apparently no junk shop or eBay seller was spared in Preston’s search for ways to bring her fictional heroine to life.”
Audrey Niffenegger
“THE SCRAPBOOK OF FRANKIE PRATT is like reading your favorite flapper great-aunt’s diary. It’s a ripping yarn of emancipated girlish adventure.”
The Paris Review (blog)
“I’ve been enjoying Caroline Preston’s ingenious THE SCRAPBOOK OF FRANKIE PRATT, a novel made up entirely of vintage images. It’s nifty and fun—[and] the plot moves along, too!”
Examiner.com
“The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston is for those who love history, strong young women, and unusual story-telling.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Literal, literary and lovely....Preston’s book is a visual journey unlike any other novel out there right now....Can be devoured in the course of a pot of tea on a cold day [but] pick [it] up the next day just to look at the images.”
New York Times Magazine
“In THE SCRAPBOOK OF FRANKIE PRATT, Caroline Preston, a former archivist, pastes vintage postcards, Jazz Age ephemera and typewritten snippets into a sweetly beguiling novel about a New England girl who trades Vassar College for Greenwich Village on the advice of Edna St. Vincent Millay.”
NPR.org
“Impossible to crack open the book without wanting to devour it… a tale of the Roaring ‘20s illustrated in the dazzling language of trinkets and baubles… the kind of visual candy that coffee tables were designed to showcase.”
Washington Post
“The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt” is a retro delight. Meticulously assembled and designed by the author from her own huge collection of memorabilia, it turns scrapbooking into a literary art form. Fans of the Roaring ’20s, Nick Bantock and modernism will all find something of value in Preston’s nostalgic ephemera.”
DoubleX
“Every coat button, baseball card, or gramophone record seems to conduct electricity…. As a reader, you are enchanted with Frankie Pratt’s life…because her life-so carefully constructed and so elegantly detailed-is not so different from our own.”
VanityFair.com
“The epistolary novel is ages old, the Twitter novel à la mode, but...The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt—to my knowledge—is the first scrapbook novel....[A] charming and transporting story, a collage of vintage memorabilia...and other ephemera depicts the adventures of an aspiring flapper-era writer.”
AARP.org
“An American (flapper) in Paris: Le Dôme café, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and l’amour all show up in scrapbook form in this novel.”
Boston Globe
“Somehow, Preston manages to make this scene feel fresh--partly because [this] really is a scrapbook, each page composed of artifacts: advertisements, yearbook photos, ticket stubs, menus from the automat, and paper dolls modeling their finest… its vintage graphics and sweet, sincere storytelling make it a pure pleasure.”
Jacqueline Winspear
“What an amazing, creative, funny, thoughtful dip into the life and times of the inimitable Frankie. I know I’ll come back to Preston’s wonderful creation time and again; for its color, warmth and whimsy. It’s a very, very clever novel.”
Elinor Lipman
“[H]ave I just read/experienced/devoured the most delightful book ever published? ....There is magic here and genius. I marveled at every page: at first, just the astonishing collection of souvenirs and memorabilia and then the story—so wry and smart and literary and historically fascinating.”
Adriana Trigiani
“A literary bottle rocket—loaded with whimsy, pizzazz and heart. The illustrations are compelling and original, and the prose is perfection in the hands of Caroline Preston.... I heartily recommend.”
Library Journal
When she graduates from high school in 1920, Frankie gets a scrapbook and her father's old Corona, which keeps her busy at Vassar and thereafter, as she pursues a writing career and sails for France on the SS Mauritania. Her story is illustrated with various memorabilia appropriate to scrapbooking: vintage postcards, magazine ads, ticket stubs, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, menus, and more. Sounds charming, and Preston's Jack by Josie did well; the 40,000-copy first printing and an eight-city tour are good news.
Kirkus Reviews
Selecting from her own collection of period mementos, Preston (Gatsby's Girl, 2006, etc.) creates a literal scrapbook for a young New Hampshire woman coming of age in the 1920s. Frankie receives a blank scrapbook and her deceased father's typewriter as high-school graduation gifts and begins to record her adventures with the keepsakes she collects. Although Vassar offers Frankie a scholarship, Frankie still can't afford to attend college. Instead she takes a job caring for elderly Mrs. Pingree (see old debutante picture). The dowager's visiting nephew Jamie, a dashing, emotionally damaged World War I vet in his 30s, emotionally seduces 17-year-old Frankie (see his scribbled notes). When the not-yet-sexual affair is discovered, Mrs. Pingree gives Frankie a $1,000 check (see society-pages article about Jamie's wife). Soon Frankie heads off to Vassar, a haven of socialites and bluestockings (see bridge score card, pack of bobbed hair pins). Her rich, intellectual but neurotic Jewish roommate Allegra is a supportive friend until Frankie wins the literary prize (read snippet of Frankie's story about Jamie romance). After graduation, Frankie moves to Greenwich Village and finds a job at True Story. Allegra's brother Oliver, working at a new magazine called the New Yorker, becomes her constant companion. Though smart, kind and attentive (see admission tickets to movies, dancehalls, ballgames), he doesn't propose. When Frankie realizes why, she goes to Paris (see Cunard baggage sticker), where the past catches up with her and a whole new chapter of life starts. Lighter than lightweight but undeniably fun, largely because Preston is having so much fun herself.
Steven Moore
…a charming, old-fashioned novel about a small-town girl with dreams of becoming a writer in the 1920s…The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a retro delight. Meticulously assembled and designed by the author from her own huge collection of memorabilia, it turns scrapbooking into a literary art form. Fans of the Roaring '20s, Nick Bantock and modernism will all find something of value in Preston's nostalgic ephemera.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061966903
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 261,653
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Preston

Caroline Preston is the author of three previous novels, Jackie by Josie (a New York Times Notable Book), Lucy Crocker 2.0, and Gatsby’s Girl. She has collected antique scrapbooks since she was in high school, and has worked as an archivist at the Peabody/Essex Museum and Harvard University. She and her husband, the writer Christopher Tilghman, live in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a feast for the eyes

    I have never read a book like this one before, in the format of a scrapbook, telling a story through pictures, words, and full-color vintage memorabilia on every page. It was a treat for the eyes! Although I could have read this book in a few hours I really took my time and savoured it. Yes, this is a book to be savoured. The story takes place from 1920 to 1928 beginning when Frankie Pratt gets a scrapbook as a high school graduation present. She finds her father's old Corona typewriter in the cellar and thus decides to write her story since she dreams of becoming a writer. She heads off to college and her journey takes her to New York and Paris until she finally returns to her New England hometown and finds what she's been looking for all along. Frankie Pratt is an interesting character, adjusting to womanhood during a decade of many changes. Her trip to Europe is the most interesting to me as she experiences the expat life along with emerging American writers of that era, such as Hemingway. Frankie is courageous, forthright and adventurous but she is also vulnerable but level-headed. It's a great combination that turns her into a memorable character. She writes with a sense of humour and no wasted words. I loved her relationship with her mother, who knew when to step in and when to let go. The setting highlighted by the collection of pictures assembled in scrapbook format really transported me visually to the vibrant culture that proceeded the Depression. I took my time looking at the pictures and realized how bold society had become as women shed their long (and sometimes confining) skirts of the 19th century and embraced the more risqué fashion and lifestyles of the 20th century. No wonder it was called the Roaring Twenties. This is one of those books that can be read over and over and the discovery would be new every time as you probably would pick up on things you missed in the pictures. It's clear the author spent considerable time choosing the right vintage pictures of people, objects and events that stamped this novel with the footprint of the unforgettable 1920s, which come to think of it, is almost a century ago. This is truly a unique historical fiction book. Note: This book has some sexual references, nothing explicit. There are also two small medical textbook diagrams of the male organ (internal view and non-offensive) that was part of the marriage manual that college women received in Hygiene class. I thought this page was quite funny actually.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2013

    Loved the visual way this story is presented - so creative!  Bit

    Loved the visual way this story is presented - so creative! 
    Bits of history and a romance are portrayed through clippings, pictures, courier typewriter text inserts, and other treats. 
    Make sure and view the book trailer below to get an idea of what is in between the covers. It is sure to delight!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2012

    What a unique way to write a novel, tell a story ~ as a scrapboo

    What a unique way to write a novel, tell a story ~ as a scrapbook! I am a modern scrapbooker which is why I was drawn to this book. It was very entertaining, cleverly written, and the ephemera/memorabilia a joy to peruse through. Caroline Preston is a creative genius! I look forward to reading the rest of her works.

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    Posted February 9, 2013

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    Posted June 17, 2013

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    Posted October 12, 2012

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    Posted June 1, 2012

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