In the mood to read something totally different? Then you might try The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston. Billed as “a novel in pictures,” you’ll find yourself reading Frankie’s scrapbook as you make your way through full-color pages overflowing with vintage memorabilia. By way of photographs, advertisements, newspaper articles, handwritten notes, maps, cards, souvenirs, and even locks of hair, the reader follows along with Frankie’s early exploits.
The reader first meets Frankie in 1920 as she wraps up her senior year of high school in Cornish, New Hampshire. Eager for adventure and dreaming of becoming a writer, Frankie heads off to Vassar College, followed by a year long stint in Greenwich Village. Fleeing a great disappointment and pushing ahead in her pursuit of new experiences, Frankie departs to Paris before bad news draws her back to New Hampshire. A series of romances, college hijinks, an inspirational meeting with a famous poet, a job writing for a tabloid, trans-Atlantic shipboard adventures with two bedraggled Russian princes, and a stay as a boarder at Paris’s Shakespeare & Company, make for interesting stops along Frankie’s circuitous route into adulthood.
Author Caroline Preston has worked as an archivist at the Peabody/Essex Museum and Harvard University, and has spent a lifetime collecting scrapbooks and ephemera. At her website you can read about how she created this unique book, which looks to be the first in a series of scrapbook novels. When I first heard about The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt at the American Library Association conference this past summer, it was described as “American Girls for adults.” I think that description is spot on. If you’re looking for a quick read, or if you’re a sucker for all things vintage, then set aside an afternoon to check out Frankie’s story.