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Frankie's Place: A Love Story Hardcover – June, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1ST edition (June 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802117473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802117472
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rarely does a subtitle describe a book so well as this one encapsulates journalist Sterba's experiences at the New England cabin of his friend, fellow writer and Pulitzer Prize-winner Frances "Frankie" FitzGerald. This is a work suffused with love of every stripe, from the romantic kind to the kind one might feel for a place, a way of life and a really good dinner. Although memoirs that arise from such contented sighs are sometimes overly sentimental, Sterba's journalistic edge keeps the prose far from mushy. It also makes for a strange yet delightful combination of elements. Mixed in with his tale of falling in love with Frankie are memories from his days reporting on Asia for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, thoughts about lobster and descriptions of prosaic events like brushing his teeth or reading the New Yorker. There are also some recipes that are probably best cooked at a cabin in Maine, after a bracing swim or a stroll through a town store that still sells penny candy. Sterba is a practical romantic who can dream away an afternoon on a sailboat but still hold a lively conversation about how tripartite boat ownership necessitates a consensus during an extensive naming session for the craft. As his relationships with the boat, Maine and cooking unfold over the course of one summer, so too does his romance with Frankie, all of it taking on the same vacation-like pace that's suffused with leisure but quickens with bursts of activity. This is a beautiful memoir, giving a glimpse not just of a person but of a time and a place worth noting.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The Frankie of the title is writer Frances FitzGerald, and the place is her family's summer cottage on Mt. Desert Island, Maine. Drawing on a persona that is equal parts foreign correspondent and farm boy, Sterba weaves together a charming series of vignettes. His courtship and marriage to Frankie are handled with an offhand romanticism, as is her insistence on working on a typewriter and her WASP background (the man who coined that expression lived on Mt. Desert Island; Sterba's wife was once defined to him as "the quintessential High WASP"). The joy of blueberries, the rationing of the pleasures of lobster, and the holy war against mice jostle gently against construction next door, Sterba's rediscovery of his biological father, and a summer work ethic that found FitzGerald and Sterba at their desks seven days a week from ten to four. Sterba expresses a lively tenderness about all of this, and while none of it probes very deeply, it is very enjoyable to read. And he includes recipes. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

If you want to get away from all your troubles, read this book.
Martin R.
Having spent time vacationing in Maine while growing up, Jim Sterba's descriptions brought some of my favorite childhood memories back to me.
Ocean Lover
He's a well-traveled, well-seasoned reporter, and his prose reads like a conversation and his description paints pictures.
Corinne H. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ted Marks on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Wall Street Journal reporter Jim Sterba has written a whimsical memoir that will tickle the fancy of those who have always dreamed about escaping the real world to the coast of Maine. "Frankie's Place" is a book about his wife's rustic cabin in Maine where he courted the author Frances FitzGerald and then, having won her hand, moved right in with her to live happily ever after.
Sterba is a veteran reporter, but he is also an astute observer, and he manages to weave some very lucid observations on a variety of issues into his tale of life in a cabin on the Maine coast.
Sterba is also very funny. He touches on any number of subjects with a wry wit that leaves the reader smiling to himself time and again, as Sterba explains the intricacies of being a foreign correspondent who roams the world for nine months of the year and then has the good fortune to spend his summers in Maine.
That good fortune came when he met Frances ("Frankie") FitzGerald, the noted Pulitzer Prizing winning historian. Sterba courts her even from his overseas assignments, and he gets his first taste of Maine when Frankie invites him to spend a weekend in her family's bucolic cabin in Northeast Harbor, located on Mount Desert Island. Frankie comes from the Peabody family from Boston (& Maine) on her mother's side. Her father was Desmond Fitzgerald, a senior CIA Cold Warrior
So Frankie is no pushover, and she puts Sterba through his paces as she introduces him to life on a Maine island. There are freezing plunges into the ocean, morning jogs and long walks. Sterba affectionally refers to this regimen as the FitzGerald Survival School. He eventually survives Frankie's school, and the two get married. Sterba, a fatherless mid-western farm boy, moves Down East.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Renee Vollen on June 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book is about a good soul who shares his recipes for a good life as well as a good meal. He shows us how to take the raw ingredients life presents us with and in addition to lots of garlic, onion and fresh herbs, how to enrich the stew with love, forgiveness and gratitude.
Like the good reporter he is, he tells it in a story so engaging you will not want it to end and when it does you�ll kiss the person next to you and run to the fridge to see what is there to be transformed.
It is a symphony of the senses; sight, taste, touch and sound, animated by a generous spirit. In my usual smart alec fashion I would make comparisons to this or that book, place it in this or that category. Finally comparisons exhausted, I realized it�s in a class by itself. Read it for the good of YOUR soul.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel N. Copp on July 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Sterba's Frankie's Place is an engaging autobiographical sketch with at least a little something for almost everyone: from an Horatio Alger story and the revival of a fractured family, to the history of seacoast Maine (Mount Desert), to favorite recipes, to a too brief recounting of his quite brilliant career as a NYTimes and WSJ reporter. What resonates most is his infectious delight when he at long last relinquishes the vagabond life for matrimony and a home of one's own -- albeit shared with various in-laws and sundry rodents. It's a love story for the final nesting of a man who came in from the cold.

I couldn't help but wish that Frankie, the historian Francis FitzGerald, could have become more than an elusive presence, but I could understand his need to respect her privacy. (That is the way of the Wasps.)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on May 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Over the years, lots of books have been written by city folks who summer in or retire to cabins in rural or remote or beach or otherwise-touristy areas and who feel the need to share their experiences with the rest of us. "Frankie's Place"now ranks at the top of that genre.
This book is not just about two NYC writers who spend extended summers in a cottage on the coast of Maine. It's about Sterba's own personal lifetime journey, from his Michigan childhood to a career as a newspaperman covering stories in Asian countries. He's a well-traveled, well-seasoned reporter, and his prose reads like a conversation and his description paints pictures. Even if your only exposure to the Maine lifestyle has been through stereotyped glimpses of it during "Murder, She Wrote" reruns, you'll find yourself experiencing it firsthand here. You'll see and feel the rocky shoreline, the brutally brisk-cold seawater, the drenching damp of a day-long fog, the delight in allowing yourself to be treated to a lobster dinner. You'll know what it's like to live in a resort area, both before and after the busy season. And as you read along, the text becomes a subtle but most meaningful lecture on Sense of Place. You quietly walk toward that goal with Jim and Frankie, and each one of you knows what the final outcome will be.
Treat yourself to Sterba's book especially if you're feeling lost in 21st-century civilization. It will bring you peace, laughter, good food, and light contemplation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.G. Pen on February 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the best kind of travel memoir -- it has recipes, witty anecdotes and characters, natural and social histories, and enchanting descriptions of the land, sea, and sky. Oh yes, and lessons in battling house mice, an overabundance of tomatoes, and the encroachment of crass non-natives. But mostly, it has a narrator whose personal contributions to all of the above make it an even richer experience. Sterba has a journalist's innate curiosity about everything, a journalist's objective stance, and a journalist's heart -- he knows, in other words, wehere the stories lie and he knows how to spin them. He makes you want to know the people as well as the place. Frankie's Place reminds me of Peter Mayle's Provence stories, only less contrived.
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