Sunday, November 1, 2009
Mark Helprin’s rollicking novel, Freddy and Fredericka, follows the adventures of the Prince and Princess of Wales as, plagued by scandals that threaten the continuity of the royal throne, they set off on a quest to recapture the American Colonies. The two – clearly modeled on Charles and Diane – learn to love and appreciate each other while they both grow into their crowns.
With a mix of picaresque farce, adventure, political philosophy, and love story, Helprin weaves a captivating tall tale. While the wordplay sometimes degenerates to Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” level, most of the book is witty and even hilarious. Helprin’s riffs and rants on such diverse subjects as the theater of politics, avant garde art, and whether “bosom” refers to a single object or half of a pair are worth putting up with a couple jokes that get stretched thin.