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The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures, Caroline Preston

2012/02/11

Although the fad of fancy scrapbooking with designer paper, expensive metal brads, ribbons, lace, and all the other things that scrapbook stores are stuffed with may have tempered slightly in the recent recession, there are still plenty of people out there who will pore over this novel cleverly disguised as a vintage scrapbook. Subtitled “a novel in pictures,” it is full of bits and clippings of authentic vintage scrapbooks, collected by the author, an archivist from the Peabody/Essex Museum. The work put into framing the story and finding pictures and clippings to tell it are impressive.

The story follows a young lady recently graduated from high school, who, though offered a half-scholarship from Vassar, stays home to care for her widowed mother, and has an unfortunate romance with her employer’s son. Frankie eventually manages to go off to Vassar, where she struggles through the studies and the society of wealthy young women who hope to find a good husband and be wives and mothers after graduation. Frankie, however, wants to be an author, and moves to New York after finishing school, where she spends time with her roommate’s brother and edits stories for a magazine.

This book won an Alex award in 2012. However, I would note that its subject matter does limit it pretty strictly to young women; I would be hard pressed to find a teenage boy that would be caught reading this. It has appeal to both budding and full-fledged hipsters, although some will be confused by the caption “a Corona at last — I’ve always wanted one!” in reference to the typewriter, not the beer.

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