Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Frankau and Ferrente



My theme this year is the ABCEDARIA of Women who have inspired me.

is for Pamela Frankau, a British novelist who lived from 1908 - 1967. Oh boy, this brings up so much - just to write her name. You see, when I was fourteen years old I wrote Frankau. I had just read A Wreath for an Enemy -  a book she wrote in 1954. It is a wonderful story -especially for an intense teenager! It is about two teenagers who both encounter older people that change their way of thinking. It is about morality, virtue, and cowardice. I highly recommend it - I've reread it many times and never get tired of it. In fact, as I was writing this, I realized it had a huge influence on the novel I just finished. An influence so deeply rooted I didn't even see it until this minute. I think I've read about every book she's ever written and loved each one. Oh, and that letter I wrote her? She answered - fourteen pages hand-written on blue paper. All about my desire to be a writer and how to achieve it. I don't have the letter anymore (don't ask - forty moves later) but I still remember the heart and care that she put into that letter for an awkward teen girl with big dreams. 


F is also for Elena Ferrante, novelist - and amazing woman. Or is she? We don't know. All we know is that an Italian writer using that name is producing the most marvelous novels. I just finished the last novel in the Neapolitan Novels. Four books about two friends from Naples that span the 50's to almost present day. I could've lived in those novels for ever.
Why does she inspire me? Her writing - pure and simple. In fact she has been known to say that once a novel is written it has no need of the author. I love that thought. She writes in a way that is different from anyone I've read. Some reviewer or another said that if Jane Austin had been angry she would've written like Ferrante. The anger is apparent - the deep dislike of a misogynist culture - the forces that shape the two young girls - rape culture, physical abuse culture - the politics - all of it. Also the way she dives into the thoughts of both women and the complexity of the relationship intrigue me. All in all - this woman is inspiring - even in her mystery.



Anyone you admire based solely on their art? Have you ever written a letter to someone you admire and gotten a response?

9 comments:

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Thank you so much for offering two wonderful authors for me to enjoy. I set a goal to read and review a certain number of books this year, various genres, and your suggestions have been added to my list.

Writing to an author is not something I ever considered. Your experience succeeded beyond, I am sure, your wildest expectations. How wonderful to hear of authors who truly appreciate their readers.

Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
Theme: The Fun in Writing


Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Gail. I wrote to one other author and got a reply as well. That was Marilyn French (oh God!another F) the writer of The Women's Room. Hers was a page, typewritten but still!

Susan Scott said...

I've never heard of these authors Jan but I'm glad I have! Thank you - have made note. I am hugely enticed by what you say about them. Sounds up my street. Sorry about loss of Pamela Frankau's personal response but you've retained the essential :) Also, nice to have a letter from Marilyn French (good F there) - I was hugely influenced by The Women's Room all those years ago and actually re-read it not that long ago, a couple of years back and found it just as thrilling. I passed it onto my sister - I wonder if she read it...

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Susan! I also got to shake Jimi Hendrix's hand, so I know l don't need stuff to remember. The feeling of those blue sheets of paper covered in a small neat hand still exists in me.

Margot Kinberg said...

I've been wondering who Elena Ferrante really is for some time, Jan. I think it's fascinating that we don't know; it adds to her interest. And she does write very, very well!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Jan, thanks for tips on these new-to-me writers! I've got some new authors on my reading list now. :) And I love that Frankau wrote you back.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I am fascinated by how the relationship between artists/entertainers and fans have changed over the years. I've heard several stories now of young people writing their heroes many years ago and getting long, heartfelt letters in response. Fifteen years ago my wife sent a letter to Neil Gaiman and received a postcard in return. Today, when communication is faster and easier than ever, we're excited if we get mentioned by one of our heroes with a few characters on Twitter. It's just a fascinating change in the way we communicate, and the value we put on it.

Liz said...

Oooh, haven't heard of either of them, I will have to investigate! ~Liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

Deborah Weber said...

You've justed added two new-to-me authors to add to my reading list - thank you! I love that you both wrote Pamela Frankau and that she wrote such an amazing and encouraging letter back - how fabulous. I always enjoy hearing those kinds of connections. Life is filled with delightful surprises that sometimes morph into really meaningful exchanges, and that certainly sounds like one of them.