Published by HarperCollins on February 2, 2016
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Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years, but now she’s writing her first book in decades and to ensure timely completion her publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. 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 Noël Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth graders.
As she gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who his 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 heartwarming story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.
A young woman, Alice, sets out to help a writer with her book, but finds herself a babysitter to Frank instead. Let’s review this adult contemporary novel!
I picked up this audiobook during my library’s Blind Date with A Book display in February. I’m torn on rating it. On one hand, I absolutely enjoyed the charming Frank. His characterization is outstanding, and the audiobook’s narrator does a marvelous job bringing him to life. On the other hand, he’s the only reason I’m not giving this book a lower rating.
I guess my biggest issue is with the main character, Alice. She never has a day off once arriving in Hollywood, and she is treated poorly by Mimi and Frank. Her motivations for staying for several months to “help” do not seem legit. Additionally, I never really got to know Alice. Her characterization is stunted compared to Frank and Mimi. I wanted to get to know her and root for her. Her romance with Xander pretty much summed up my thoughts of her as a character – pointless.
I ultimately feel let down. If you’re interested in this book, I suggest listening to the audiobook. The narrator is absolutely fabulous, especially during the dialog exchanges between Alice and Frank. However, the rest of the story (for me at least) falls pretty flat.
tl;dr Absolutely phenomenally narrated audiobook about a charming young man and his mom’s assistant.