Sunday, November 1, 2009

Review of the Day: Freddy and Fredericka

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.


  1. Actually, I think if there's one thing to win me over, it's the promise of "Who's on First" style wordplay. Well... maybe not the only thing... Wit and hilarity are a good way to sell a book too, after all.

  2. I really wanted to like this book. But I didn't make it past 50 pages. I loved the concept, but I thought the execution was a little too over the top. It's still on the shelf so I guess there is always a chance I could back to it.

  3. Helprin writes like a god. If you don't like F and F (it is a bit sluggish at first) try the very different Memoir from Antproof Case, or, best of all, Soldier of the Great War. His short stories are sparkling and clean, like he has chiseled them out of pure marble. Try "The Pacific and Other Stories" and read the title story, and the one called "Perfection." lprin has the adventurous flavor of Hemingway and the poetic touch of Alan Paton. I find his stuff staggeringly beautiful.

  4. A. Child -- If you enjoy that kind of mis-communication humor, this is the book for you! There are some conversations that are really funny. A short example: The prince is on tv and says, "My father, who's sane, is a great man." Everyone hears, "My father, Hussein . . . ," leading to a crazy interview and the conclusion that the prince is definitely NOT sane.

    Thomas -- This is definitely a book you have to dive into and just decide you are going to enjoy for what it is. If you want a logical plot and speedy tempo, it would be frustrating.

    Kelly -- I should have known I could lure you into leaving a comment if I posted about Helprin. I know you are huge fan. I have the short stories and Soldier of the Great War on my TBR shelf. I read Antproof Case and really liked it, but think I might give it a re-read to really appreciate it.

  5. You have won an award at my blog. Please stop by and pick it up. Just leave a note saying you have it. Thanks.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...