Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Arrangement - Ashley Warlick

Rating: 3 Stars
Published: February 2016
Many thanks to Netgalley and Viking Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon Goodreads
Mary Frances invites him to dine with her husband, a husband that likely was never invited himself. Based in 1934, Mary Frances has found a desire to write and a desire to love, two things most lacking in her current relationship. Leaning on Tim for support, Mary Frances finds herself first published as M.F.K. Fisher and soon after involved in an extramarital affair. Soon all three are involved in the arrangement, leaving lasting effects on their careers, their families, and their lives.

With beautiful prose and historical accuracy, Ashley Warlick weaves the tale of M.F.K. Fisher in The Arrangement. Warlick manages to take away the distaste that comes with affairs and tell the story of Mary Frances'  emotionally lacking marriage to Al and ever-growing fondness for their family friend, Tim. As the title suggests, this book explains the arrangement Mary Frances has with her husband, her lover, and her writing life. Like many other literary fictions out right now, The Arrangement tells the fictionalized story of an author, M.F.K. Fisher, a well known American food writer. The life of Mary Frances is compelling, she traveled often and was a true lover of food, but this novel fails to bring to life Mary Frances and her essays and instead focuses on her extramarital relationship alone. It takes ages to reach the arrangement and unfortunately the unraveling marriage fails to evoke the emotions one would usually feel during the loss of love. I initially enjoyed The Arrangement, I wanted to learn how Mary Frances began her writing career, and the curiosity of her affair grabbed my attention, however this novel failed to deliver. Full of moments of great importance, the slow development and lack of emotion makes this book read more like an informational essay than a romanticized account.

I am a lover of words, I enjoy when an author is a quality literary writer, but then there is over the top and The Arrangement is just that, over the top. The prose is gorgeous, but it also takes away from the overall story. I felt more like I was taking in the details of what was going on around Mary Frances than I was living life as her. There are beautiful descriptions of foods, of clothing, of the faces of the characters around her, but I never felt any emotion. What started as intriguing soon grew tedious for me and I had to consciously keep myself from skimming pages. There was also no distinct voice; the changing POV's, and changing times, made for a confusing story line that I couldn't date easily. I found myself confused and disconnected from the narrative, further pulling me from the story of Mary Frances and her evolving relationship and subsequent arrangement.

While lacking the emotive writing M.F.K. Fisher put into her own essays, Warlick delivers a successful historical fiction about Mary Frances and her hunger, her hunger for life and love.

Post a Comment

© Carlene Inspired. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.