Rambling about books

Book review: Be Frank With Me, by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Book cover from Goodreads

Energy spent on worrying about a future you can’t control is energy wasted. It doesn’t do anybody one good.


Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly 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 Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s 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. Taken from Goodreads.

This has good to be one of those “feel good” books that I’ve read this year. I really didn’t expect to like it. To be completely honest it was a matter of random choice when I picked this book up, but once I did, it was really hard to put it down.

To put it simply, this book is so simple. It is a story. Yep that’s pretty much it. There were nothing elaborate about it. The simplicity is what made this book so enjoyable. Alice as the main character is not the perfect character you would have expect. The quiet ones with hidden arsenal that will change the course of life of the other characters. Nope, not Alice. Alice is like us. Alice is the people living in the background of our lives. But, that is why it was interesting to listen to Alice. That she is who she is, regardless of how imperfect she made herself to be, we never get the feel that she’s actually perfect. She is imperfect. Just like Mimi is so annoying, even though she was such an acclaimed author. Just like Xander is a no good thing, even though he is supposed to be incredibly and extremely handsome.

The story is sweet, endearing, and bittersweet. But, above all, it is honest. You would expect that reading this book, some miraculous thing would happen, like maybe Frank will be accepted by his friends regardless of how different he is, or Mimi will love and accept Alice, or Xander will be responsible, or Alice finally made something of her life by the time the book ends. But, no. No such thing had happened.

But, it doesn’t matter. Because not all stories has to have endings where everybody is happy and all problems seem to resolve itself. Just like life, stories can end abruptly. Whilst I was surprised by the time I read the last page (I really thought it was going to be something more), I ended up feeling the ending was the perfect ending. That just because a story ends, doesn’t mean it is the final to everything. I love it.

Now, if just I would know what the story that  Mimi wrote.

Oh a thousand yes!

You will love this book as much as I did. You will fell in love with Frank. You will be curious with Xander. You will be irritated with Mimi. You will enjoy Alice’s voice throughout the book. But, for me personally, you may wished (so hard) to have a boss like Mr Vargas.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️☆

Title: Be Frank With Me

Author: Julia Claiborne Johnson

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Fiction, Humour, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Goodreads link


2 thoughts on “Book review: Be Frank With Me, by Julia Claiborne Johnson”

    1. It is awesome. I am actually surprised that I ended up liking it, because it was so simple, but it is sweet indeed, and very direct. Let me know what you think if you’ve read it.


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