Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Alice travels from New York to Bel Air to be the assistant to the famous reclusive author M. M. Banning. Banning wrote one book, but it is THE book all schoolchildren know and love and hold onto throughout their lives. (Think of a book similar to To Kill a Mockingbird.) Banning is now broke; she was the victim of bad investing, so she has to write a new novel and fast. But she needs Alice’s help. Someone needs to take care of Frank, her nine year old son. And taking care of Frank is certainly a full time job. Frank is different, yet delightful. He is definitely living in the wrong era as he wears morning suits and top hats and adores old black and white movies. He knows everything about the movies and any topic that interests him. He also manages to get into everything and doesn’t really get along with other children his age, social interactions are not something he is comfortable with at all. But is Banning Frank’s mother? Who is his father? And will this book ever be written?
Eccentric only scratches the surface of this small family. As we learn more about Banning we understand more about her current life and why Frank is the amazing child he is. The characters are all well drawn and even though for most of the novel it seems like nothing much is happening you keep furiously reading caught up in the everyday drama of Frank and his mother. I did get a little annoyed with Alice as she acted like a typical young woman, can’t say I would have acted any differently at her age mind you, but being closer to Banning’s age than Alice’s I got annoyed with her all the same.
If you like family drama liberally dosed with humor as well as heart you can’t go wrong with Be Frank with Me.