The Most Perfect Book

frances and bernard

I’ve always heard that if you have ambitions to write you should write the novel that you would want to read, the novel that embraces all your passions and literary likes. Well, thanks to Carlene Bauer there’s no need for me to ever write my own novel – she has written my perfect book.

Frances & Bernard is an epistolary novel set during the late 50’s through the late 60’s and chronicles the evolving relationship between a novelist and a poet. Their passionate and intelligent letters illuminate the difficult choices we all make about love, self-worth, creativity and spirituality. It is endearing and bittersweet and will make you laugh, cry and think.

With a mid-century setting, a New York vibe, characters who are based on Robert Lowell, Flannery O’Connor and others of their smart literary set, witty book talk, earnest spiritual discussions and honest observations on art and romance it ticks every one of my boxes. I wanted to re-read it immediately after finishing. It is a book that captured my heart and my mind and I think it will be a forever favorite.

Have you ever encountered the most perfect book for you?

18 thoughts on “The Most Perfect Book

  1. This book sounds wonderful! Has it been out long?
    Reminds me somewhat of the 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.


  2. I’ve not heard of this before, either! And I do love epistolary novels.

    I will have to think about perfect books. I know there have been books that I thought perfect at the time, but I’m not sure I’d feel the same way now.


    1. Just adding a comment – not on the book – but I have nominated you as a Very Inspiring Blogger:

      Thank you for inspiring me!


    2. I haven’t ever really felt this way about any novel except for Little Women – I hope they’ll both still be perfect for me in the years to come.


    1. I tried to read Catcher a few months ago and didn’t quite feel in the mood for it, but I’d love to try again. I didn’t care for it when I was a teen.


  3. Did you ever read a book and have little inner response and then, years later, read it and love it?
    Some books I’ve loved:
    The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society
    Truman Capote’s Christmas Story
    Dean Koonz A Good Life ( I think that’s the title, about his beloved dog)


    1. Hi Nancy, yes I’ve had that experience, most recently with The Bell Jar. I didn’t like it when I read it years ago, but when I read it last year I adored it and thought it was brilliant.
      Guernsey and A Christmas story are two books I’ve also loved!


  4. I think that’s amazing how you’ve found a book that fits the bill so much! I haven’t read a book that’s perfect, but ones that are near it. I could combine a couple to make it.


  5. I’ve several times encountered a book that’s perfect for where I am at that time. I don’t know if there’s one perfect book that gets at everything I could want. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell might be pretty close? Or I could just be saying that because I’ve been desperate for news of the BBC miniseries and there keeps not being any news and I am just antsy and fussy about it all the time right now. :p


    1. What exciting news about the miniseries! I’ve never read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but I admit hearing about the adaptation might lead me to. I’m glad to hear that it’s close to your perfect book – however I feel apprehensive for you too! I hope the miniseries does it justice.


  6. This is a belated comment as I’m behind on my blog reading, but I am SO glad to hear that you loved this one! It is definitely one of my favorite contemporary novels of recent years. The character portrayals are so realistic and moving. It really resonated with me and I think it will be due for a reread sometime in the near future.


    1. Yes, I loved it! It resonated with me also and I want to buy my own copy. It would be the perfect reread because there is so much to think about, it is so layered.


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