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The Arrangement: A Novel by Ashley Warlick
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The Arrangement: A Novel (edition 2016)

by Ashley Warlick (Author)

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963226,627 (3.18)7
"An irresistible novel about food, desire, and the real-life love triangle between M.F.K Fisher, her husband, and the man she left him for--the true love of her life Los Angeles, 1934. Mary Frances is on the cusp of becoming M.F.K. Fisher--the writer whose artful personal essays about food created a genre. She is hungry, and not just for food: she wants Tim, her husband Al's charming friend, who encourages her writing and seems to understand her better than anyone. Mary Frances and Al no longer share the things that once bound them together--a good glass of wine, a fine meal, their creative energy, and even their affection and intimacy. After a night's transgression with Tim, it's only a matter of time before Mary Frances claims what she truly desires, plunging all three of them into a tangled triangle of affection that will have far-reaching effects on their families, their careers, and their lives. Set in California, France, and the Swiss Alps, The Arrangement is a sparkling, sensual, and completely enveloping story of love, passion, and a woman well ahead of her time, who had the courage to be--and to take--exactly who she wanted"--… (more)
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This is a second novel of biographical fiction I've read this year (the other being [b:Behave|25733524|Behave|Andromeda Romano-Lax|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1447783022s/25733524.jpg|45433468] by [a:Andromeda Romano-Lax|116053|Andromeda Romano-Lax|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1384480247p2/116053.jpg]). I thought this book was a little unwieldy compared with the other, where the strangeness of the story wasn't helped by the storytelling. For me it was exactly ok enough to keep reading. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
To read more of my reviews visit Carlene Inspired.

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. ( )
  CarleneInspired | Jun 14, 2019 |
Carolina Southern author, Ashley Warlick, infuses fact with fiction with the exquisitely evocative THE ARRANGEMENT, Mary Frances Fischer (M.F.K)— legendary food writer and storyteller. From the classic front cover, a timeless story of a complex talented woman, her love of food and literature, her desires, passions, a love triangle, and life in the 1930s-40s.

M.F.K. Fisher books deal primarily with food, considering it from many aspects: preparation, natural history, culture, and philosophy. Fisher believed that eating well was just one of the "arts of life" and explored the art of living as a secondary theme in her writing.

Set in Depression -era California and prewar Europe, this sweeping literary tale is all about hunger — both for food and love. A wife, a lover, and an independent talented woman with desires.

Cassandra Campbell was the "perfect voice" for the audio book, delivering a magical and spellbinding performance-- for Mary Frances, the extraordinary food critic/author, and the secondary voices. (Highly recommend audio version). The sensual adventures of food writer M.F. K. Fisher will keep readers turning the pages (or glued to your listening device).

From 1934, Hollywood, Mary Frances Kennedy is married to Al Fisher, a college professor and poet. She is restless and bored. The Great Depression - times are tough. Her husband resents Mary Frances, whose talent as a writer is moving forward, and she resents Al for his lack of passion in and out of the bedroom. His writing is not going well. She wanted to make her marriage work; however, it does not seem possible.

She becomes involved in an affair with Dillwyn “Tim” Parrish, a painter, and writer--a great supporter of her work. Tim was older, a mentor and encourages her passion for writing—he taught her pleasure. A perfect match for her passion of romance and food.

Mary Frances wants more she wants to be successful, wants to be loved. Of course, in these times, divorce was unacceptable and the affair seemed to be the only logical choice. Tim, also married to a much young aspiring actress, Gigi. After she leaves him for another man, Mary Frances and Tim reconnect. However, the timing is off—Al is depressed, unable to write, perform, and suffering from the death of his father.

Torn, a love complex triangle. Scandalous. An entanglement. Pain and pleasure. Mary Frances struggles to choose between her husband and his friend, and decides instead to write--leaving behind Mary Frances, she becomes MFK Fisher.

A talented woman struggling to find a voice; a place in her world; illustrating the force that drives us to feed ourselves when we are hungry, in many ways. Spanning time and space, from California, France and the Swiss Alps--Rich in history, art, charm, travel, culture, cuisine, and epicurean delights, THE ARRANGEMENT —will make you appreciate the simple sensual pleasures of food and cooking.

In addition to the passion of food and wine, literary, and a sensuous love affair, the novel also reiterates how difficult it was during this era for a woman, both personally and professional.

Provocative, seductive, and sensuous –an ideal read for valentines, transporting readers to another place and time, assured to please culinary, foodies, literary, and historical romance fans. The characters come alive on the pages, and the author’s passion shines through—one to be savored.

Author Ashley Warlock, no stranger to food, knows her way around a kitchen. She calls herself “a passionate, obstinate home cook, as happy to read a cookbook as a novel.” The editor of the South Carolina quarterly food magazine Edible Upcountry.

A Charlotte, NC native, with hotel clients in the Charleston, SC area, so excited to discover this Southern author---my first book by Warlick, and look forward to reading more!

“Fisher is fascinating and enigmatic, in the way of many who seem to choose themselves as their principal subject,” Warlick says in press material. “And she was arguably the first woman to write about her own life through the lens of food, at a time when the only outlets women considered in this arena were cookbooks and housekeeping manuals. “Even by today’s standards, Fisher’s essays are intimate an d sexy, flirtatious, lush.”

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is not just the greatest American food writer who's ever played the game, she's one of our greatest writers, period. She was, variously, a travel writer, an essayist, a chronicler of American idylls, an observer of decline, of lack, of old fashioned custom and manners, a social critic, and a historian.

Other Reading Fans of MFK Fisher, will want to read, The Theoretical Foot Feb 9, 2016. When Robert Lescher died in 2012 an unpublished manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher’s was discovered neatly packed in the one of the literary agent’s signature red boxes. Inspired by Fisher’s affair with Dillwyn Parrish -- who was to become her second husband. (currently reading). This book accounts the latter days of the romance between Fisher and Parrish. The novel itself never saw publication while Fisher was alive. Recommend reading both--a fascinating woman!

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” ― M.F.K. Fisher ( )
  JudithDCollins | Feb 14, 2016 |
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"An irresistible novel about food, desire, and the real-life love triangle between M.F.K Fisher, her husband, and the man she left him for--the true love of her life Los Angeles, 1934. Mary Frances is on the cusp of becoming M.F.K. Fisher--the writer whose artful personal essays about food created a genre. She is hungry, and not just for food: she wants Tim, her husband Al's charming friend, who encourages her writing and seems to understand her better than anyone. Mary Frances and Al no longer share the things that once bound them together--a good glass of wine, a fine meal, their creative energy, and even their affection and intimacy. After a night's transgression with Tim, it's only a matter of time before Mary Frances claims what she truly desires, plunging all three of them into a tangled triangle of affection that will have far-reaching effects on their families, their careers, and their lives. Set in California, France, and the Swiss Alps, The Arrangement is a sparkling, sensual, and completely enveloping story of love, passion, and a woman well ahead of her time, who had the courage to be--and to take--exactly who she wanted"--

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