Saturday 22 October 2011

Book review : The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt : A Novel in Pictures - Caroline Preston

I've read and reviewed a lot of books here on my blog, but The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is totally unique and in a genre of its own. Described as "a novel in pictures", it recreates the 1920's scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, a young woman from New Hampshire, and tells the story of her coming-of-age, through the first clumsy steps into romance and heartache, her adventures and work abroad, then the return to her happy ending in the States.

The colourful, glossy pages are jam-packed with vintage memorabilia and artefacts - photos, ticket stubs, adverts and newspaper clippings - that really transport you back in time, giving you a real feel for the period. There may not be many words but Frankie comes across as a really likeable character, with carefully selected typewritten or scribbled comments adding humour or poignancy to the unfolding tale.

The book acts as a time-capsule for the 1920's, offering a glimpse into the mentalities of the time as well as a visual look at the things young flappers like Frankie would have had around them. Author Caroline Preston collected a huge amount of authentic 1920's memorabilia, and explains : "In making The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, I collected over 600 pieces of vintage 1920’s ephemera which I found in antique stores and on eBay. In the process, I became a sleuth on eBay—both at tracking down obscure items and at sneaking in at the final seconds of the auction with a winning bid. My 5 favorite finds were: a flapper’s Bakelite and rhinestone cigarette holder, a Prohibition-era prescription form for medicinal liquor, a Spirit of St. Louis badge handed out on the streets of Paris when Lindy landed in 1927, a spoon from at Horn and Hardart Automat, and a 1925 Sears Catalog."

It's a wonderful coffee table book that you can dip into time and time again. I would love to see other books of this kind recreating other periods of recent history (I would LOVE one from the seventies and eighties of my childhood !) because, unlike history books which concentrate on the things of national and international importance, the scrapbook focuses on all those trivial but crucial things on a personal level that are tucked away in our private memory banks. It's actually inspired me to get my daughters - aged 10 and 6 - to start a scrapbook of their own "special things" like candy wrappers, temporary tattoos and stickers out of the cereal packets ! In thirty years' time, I'm sure they'll love pulling it out to look through and show to their kids !

If you'd like to find out more about the book, you can watch two video trailers here.

Caroline Preston on the book:

Frankie Pratt’s video book trailer:

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt By Caroline Preston

Harper/HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN 13: 9780061966903
$25.99/$33.99 Can./Hardcover/240 pages
On-sale: October 25, 2011

star rating : 5/5

available in the UK on amazon for £14.44 (see below)

Other reviews you may be interested in :

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book too, and I really agree with what you said about it focusing on the trivial but personal things.. that is so true.. I keep a box of random ticket-stubs and flyers in a shoebox and that will remind me of more memories than an old newspaper ever will! Great story, I loved Frankie. I reviewed it too if you'd like to take a look! Thanks!


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