- Frankie's Place: A Love Story
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Loading Table Of Contents Loading Excerpt Author Notes. Loading Author Notes LC Subjects. Electronic books. FitzGerald, Frances, -- -- Relations with men. Journalists -- United States -- Biography. Sterba, Jim, -- -- Relations with women. More Details. In this Tracy-Hepburn romance a sophisticated New York intellectual is charmed by a down-to-earth newspaperman.
Although they couldn't have had more disparate childhoods - Jim grew up on a struggling Michigan farm while Frankie lived in a Manhattan townhouse and an English country estate - their shared summer rituals have them falling in love before our eyes. Similar Series From NoveList. Similar Titles From NoveList.
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We could work and play, read and cook, walk and swim, and be with each other just far enough beyond the edge of the world's clamor to feel momentarily out of harm's way. Or so we thought. This story takes place in a summer that was the same as others in many ways. Each summer began with a great sense of anticipation, a buildup of energy to splurge on a fresh interlude in the crisp, clean air and green, watery outdoors of the Maine coast. Then we would settle into a routine of writing punctuated by bouts of play.
The days would fly by. Local soap opera fueled chatter at dinner tables and at sunset gatherings called porch-benders. Then it would be over, as quickly as the snap of a switch in a gaily-lit room. Some summers, singular events stood out in my memory: the sunny day I asked Frankie to marry me; our first porch crops; my first mackerel and striped bass; a new store in town.
Others contained seasonal highlights: the damp summer when chanterelle mushrooms were everywhere; the chilly summer when tomatoes never got ripe. There was the summer we bought our boat and began visiting outlying villages, exploring uninhabited islands, and watching sea birds and seal colonies; the summer we saw a mother skunk and five baby skunks parading beside the road into Northeast Harbor at sunset; the summer a cock pheasant and a fox played cat and mouse on the side of Cedar Swamp mountain, appearing before us at the same place along a walking trail almost every time we walked past.
There was the first time we went whale watching in a friend's little lobster boat. As we neared Mount Desert Rock, a tiny island twenty-five miles out to sea, we spotted some humpback whales in the distance. But they submerged before we could get near them. When we arrived at where they had been, we cut the boat's engine and quietly drifted. Within minutes, two huge humpbacks came up along side the boat, their snouts within inches of its hull, their eyes peering up at us, their blowholes exhaling the foulest breath in creation: eau de rotten shrimp.
They stayed with us, circling, playing, diving under and around our little boat, for almost an hour. This book began with recipes. Frankie is a by-the-book cook, and a good one. Whenever a reliable rendition of a classic Julia Child production was called for, Frankie got the assignment. I liked to improvise. Experimenting was part of what made cooking enjoyable for me. Sometimes I pushed too far. Once I made a pate out of mussels that even the seagulls avoided.
Frankie's Place: A Love Story
On occasion my creations turn out not half bad. Sometimes I placed a new dish in front of Frankie and she sniffed, nibbled, and said, "You've got to write this down. When I concocted a fish stew or a bean salad that we agreed was good enough to serve to dinner guests, I'd go to my computer and write down the recipe while Frankie did the dishes. I hated doing dishes.
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Washing and drying dishes, I learned early in life, was a task adults dreamed up to torture little boys. My boyhood interest in cooking was motivated in no small measure by a desire to avoid dirty dishes duty. When I cooked, I was exempt from dishes, and this exemption I carried through life. Since the recipes took only a couple of minutes to write down, I'd linger at the computer while Frankie finished the dishes.
FRANKIE'S PLACE by Jim Sterba | Kirkus Reviews
To fill the time, I'd write the source of the ingredients for the recipes. I wrote about foraging in the woods for mushrooms and foraging in the village for groceries. My writing began to take the form of a journal. I put down the events of the day leading up to the meal and even my thoughts during the day. I wrote about what we talked about on walks. When we told stories about events from the past, I put those in too. I wrote down growing-up stories, cub-reporting stories, young-writer stories, war stories. Quite early in this summer of recipe journalism, some very unusual things began to happen.
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As I included them in my journal, I thought that I might have the makings of a book. The book would be about a summer at Frankie's place.
To write it, I realized, I would have to answer a question: what was so special about Frankie's place? The question can be answered many ways. One answer was about location.
Frankie's place was on the biggest island on the Maine coast. It is a beautiful island with an interesting history. To supply this answer, I set to work reading everything I could find about Mount Desert, from the history of its geology to the history of its inhabitants. Among those inhabitants were some of Frankie's ancestors, and they lured me deeper into the library stacks and through books that took me back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and colonial Salem.
All this became part of the story.
Another answer was about Frankie. Frankie's place couldn't be special to me without Frankie.
The cozy house, the woods and water, the lovely views and the extraordinary island were part of a stage on which our relationship grew, and I knew that the story of that relationship would have to be part of my story as well. Frankie's place was special to me for another obvious reason, but one I tried not to think about.
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Then one bizarre summer day I had no choice. The day was August 23, It began at a small cemetery in the forest near Northeast Harbor where relatives and friends had gathered to bury the ashes of Frankie's mother. The morning, eight days after her death, was sunny, the wind still in the wake of a big storm that had battered its way up the coast and moved out to sea.