Make It Stay by Joan Frank

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Reason for Reading:
  • The summary caught my eye.

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Summary from GoodReads:

In the tree-nestled Northern California town of Mira Flores, writer Rachel (“an aging typist with an unprofitable hobby”) and her Scottish husband Neil prepare dinner for a familiar “crew” of guests – among them Neil’s best friend, the burly, handsome Mike Spender, an irrepressible heodnist – and Mike’s wife Tilda Krall, a hard-bitten figure who carries her dark unknowability like an accusation.

Mike and Tilda have produced an enchanting daughter, Addie – who will also appear, unexpectedly, that night. As they ready the meal, Rae begs Neil to retell her the strange, twisted story of the Spenders – to include Mike’s secret life, and what happened once Tilda learned of it. Neil and Rae cannot guess how the shock waves from that story will threaten to destroy their own marriage – after a mysterious catastrophe propels all five individuals into uncharted realities.

Recounting three love stories, Make It Stay explores the vision of an era – and how perception expands, as mortal limits draw near.

My Review:

Make It Stay is a short, compact tale told through the recounting of stories between a husband and a wife.

Neil and Rachel are married – they met later in life than is the “norm”, and Neil comes with the “baggage” of friendship in the form of Mike and Tilda.

Mike is a larger than life character – vibrant, colorful, filled with character. The reader is introduced to him through Neil’s eyes, as the story between Mike and Tilda is told to Rachel.

So not only does Mike and Tilda’s relationship tie in to Neil and Rachel’s, then there is the addition of Addie (Mike and Tilda’s daughter) and her husband.

I found the description of this book to be somewhat misleading. I went into it expecting a sort of around the table story-telling session, but instead got a bit of a hokey retelling in the form of a story within a story (it’s hard to put into words, just felt a bit like a gimmick). The summary also promises three romance stories – but Addie’s was hardly present, and the two characters in that relationship were flat and one-dimensional.

The characters of Mike, Tilda and Rachel really carry the story. Even Neil I found to be a bit predictable and boring – but the story is worth reading just for those main three characters. It gave me quite a bit to think about – about friendship, legacies left behind, and the fleeting span of life.

About the Author

  • Information regarding Joan Frank:

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  1. I agree with you about the summary being a bit misleading. I did think the story-within-a-story thing was kind of neat, but overall I found the novel a bit forgettable.

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