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Make It Stay Hardcover – March 30, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

First-class fiction. Kirkus

Frank s novel is a meditation on the collision between an enduring friendship and a singular marriage, both of them, in ways, life-saving. Frank breathes life into these relationships through painterly, sometimes florid, vignettes. Her prose has the impressionistic quality of poetry, an indulgence that at times derails the story, yet skillfully distills the zeal and alienation of a midlife love attenuated by distance and grief. --Publishers Weekly

On the surface a story of love and friendship, this short novel also reflects deeply on reaching middle age and one s own sense of mortality. Frank s writing is deeply insightful, and her characters are memorable and authentic... Rich descriptions and allegory add color to the story, while an informal tone keeps it accessible and inviting. --Booklist

Make It Stay is about friendship, love and mortality and everything that those things entail. It s such an enchanting book that I will return to it just to read random passages. --Entertainment Realm

Love in an age of freedom, friendship at an age when years begin to count, loyalty in a time of suffering, and hope in the face of despair, Joan Frank s Make it Stay has it all. Time changes priorities and relationships. Meanwhile change alters the measuring of time. Ingredients that tasted wrong on their own can mix to a glorious feast, and holding too tight is sometimes the saddest way to make things not stay. In Make it Stay Joan Frank takes readers from staying to leaving to staying again. Telling a story of genuine people, gently touching their hurts, she creates a story guaranteed to touch and stay in the reader s heart. --Café Libri

On the surface a story of love and friendship, this short novel also reflects deeply on reaching middle age and one s own sense of mortality. Frank s writing is deeply insightful, and her characters are memorable and authentic... Rich descriptions and allegory add color to the story, while an informal tone keeps it accessible and inviting. --Booklist

Make It Stay is about friendship, love and mortality and everything that those things entail. It s such an enchanting book that I will return to it just to read random passages. --Entertainment Realm

Love in an age of freedom, friendship at an age when years begin to count, loyalty in a time of suffering, and hope in the face of despair, Joan Frank s Make it Stay has it all. Time changes priorities and relationships. Meanwhile change alters the measuring of time. Ingredients that tasted wrong on their own can mix to a glorious feast, and holding too tight is sometimes the saddest way to make things not stay. In Make it Stay Joan Frank takes readers from staying to leaving to staying again. Telling a story of genuine people, gently touching their hurts, she creates a story guaranteed to touch and stay in the reader s heart. --Café Libri

About the Author

Joan Frank is the author of four prior books of fiction. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the Richard Sullivan Prize, Dana Award, Michigan Literary Fiction Award, Iowa Writing Award, and Emry's fiction award, and recipient of grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. She has taught Creative Writing at San Fransisco State University and lives in Northern California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The Permanent Press; First Edition edition (March 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579622275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579622275
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,948,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kundera on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Joan Frank is a Bay Area novelist who deserves a wider readership than she currently has. While her writings have enjoyed critical acclaim over the years, she is not as well-known as she should be. Perhaps "Make It Stay" will change that. Her latest offering is a polished gem--well-crafted, thought-provoking and exquisitely written. It is a book for people like me, who are more interested in who won the Best Screenplay Oscar than the Best Picture award and who would rather see a small, independent film with genuine characters than a Hollywood blockbuster. In short, Joan Frank is an art house novelist.

Make It Stay is a tale about the strength and fragility of relationships. The story opens as Neil, a likeable Scot who grew up in poverty, prepares dinner for old friends in his northern California home: "The Cooking? An act of aggression against an industrially grim childhood." Much of the tale is told in flashback as Neil reveals some secrets about Mike and Tilda to his wife Rachel, a city girl who was lured out of San Francisco in mid-life to spend her days with the man she loves amid the idyllic, rural splendor of the north bay town of Mira Fores. She is an outsider here and somewhat a stranger to the pre-Rachel world of Neil's circle of friends. She has never really understood the bond that tied her beloved to these people with whom he seemed to have so little in common. Once the tale is told, we not only come to appreciate--along with Rachel--why Neil felt such an affinity for Mike and Tilda, but are compelled to contemplate our own relationships as well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Frank is a writer who is completely present in the world, whether meticulously untangling the strands of a complicated relationship or simply describing an environment, nothing escapes her eye. Perhaps that is why this writing is so seductive, brave really, despite the hard truths Rachel learns as her husband relates his history with best friends, Mike and Tilda Spender. Larger-than-life, free-spirited Mike leaves a lasting impression on Neil Abercrombie in the early 1970s, a Scotsman new to the northern California town of Mira Flores. Later, Mike marries the monosyllabic Tilda ("Her face... was absent: as if its owner had simply gone somewhere more interesting."), the couple the proud parents of the beautiful, shining Addie. It is the complicated boundaries of this friendship that Rachel seeks to navigate through Neil, a wife late on the scene and late to marriage, identity nestled comfortably into that of her husband.

As Neil describes the years with Mike and Tilda, Mike's enthusiastic joy in life and Tilda's sullen presence, Rae seeks to understand, to find her place in a group that has its own secrets, denials, excesses and betrayals. Not so easily done from the outside. And as the tale unfolds, Rae brings her own voice to the telling, the perspective of a wife invested in the man she loves, smoothing over flaws, comforting, awash in shock when faced with his harsh judgment. For while Mike and Tilda's drama infiltrates their marriage, it is essentially Rachel and Neil's story, a fitting of woman to man and circumstance without reservation. Rachel measures Neil's dimensions through his friendship with Mike, now grown heavy and bald with time, laughter undiminished in spite of life's incongruencies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By cheryl1213 on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I recieved this short novel as a Goodreads giveaway winner. I might have been hesitant to purchase it on my own since I shy away from shorter novels. I loved it though so I'm quite glad that the giveaway brought it to me.

This is a novel of characters and relationships. The narrator is Rachel and she and her husband, Neil, spend much of the novel sharing the story of another couple, Neil's best friend Mike and Mike's wife Tilda. We also briefly see the story of Mike and Tilda's daughter, Addie. There's a limited amount of action with the novel really being about the relationships and the ways love manifests itself.

I loved this book and happily give it 4 stars, at points I was leaning towards 4.5. I loved the writing style which reminded me of Zoe Heller's What Was She Thinking (aka Notes on a Scandal). The characters were interesting and imperfect, the love real and flawed. The writing was accessible but still lovely. This book is definitely for a reader who likes character over plot and I'd highly recommend it to such an audience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Dawson on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Make It Stay is impossible to describe. It's the story of two married couples, particularly the husbands' long and eventful friendship, but it's really so much more than that. Over the course of a lifetime, Neil and Mike forge a loyal connection based on a long history and a shared love of sensual experiences (for Mike it's women and for Neil it's food). The story is structured as Neil's retelling to his wife Rachel of his history with Mike and Mike's tumultuous relationship with his own wife Tilda. One of the best parts of this novel is this unique structure, which reveals the loving and forgiving lens through which Neil views Mike's troubled life. Joan Frank has really gotten inside this relationship and captured it in writing in a rare way. On top of that, Frank's prose is amazingly beautiful and observant. This novel isn't a traditional suspense tale, but I found I couldn't put it down, and I read the entire thing in one weekend.
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