Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer, narrated by Angela Brazil and Stephen R. Thorne
Published in audio by AudioGo, published in print by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I would probably use about a billion words to try to describe this and the publisher’s description is SO pithy and perfect, so I’m just going to use that:
Loosely inspired by Robert Lowell and Flannery O’Connor, this absorbing, charming novel brings us into mid-century New York and the lives and letters of two writers– their intense friendship, their discussions of writing and art and faith, and their bittersweet romance.
Thoughts on the story:
Frances and Bernard is a fairly contemplative book, the musings of (and repressed affection between) Bernard and Frances. I’m not entirely sure how I would have felt about this in print, I’m not sure it would have held my interest initially. Luckily the narrators were enough to keep me entertained at that point, and later Bauer’s story itself becomes emotionally involving enough to captivate me. I was surprised at the sheer volume of their discussion of their Catholic faith and equally surprised just how intrigued I was by all of their discussions, from the personal, to the religious, to the literary.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Angela Brazil and Stephen R. Thorne? Perfect. PERFECT. This is an example of fabulous casting, both narrators fit their role perfectly, and since nearly the entire book is a letter written by one of them or the other, the dual narrator format works incredibly well.
Frances and Bernard is a quietly lovely epistolary novel and the narration elevates the audio to another level entirely. Highly recommended.
For more, please see my review for Audiofile magazine.
Source: Audiofile Magazine.
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