Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin
I have to thank one of my very sweet friends for sending me this book for my birthday, because although I had vaguely heard of it, I probably never would’ve gotten around to reading it. So, thanks, Beck! You the best!
You know how there are some books that just hit a whole bunch of sweet spots for you? Well, Freddy and Fredericka is one of those books that seems as though it was meant for someone like me in mind. Yes, I’m an Anglophile, but as I lived in the UK for a couple years and then had my career focus on it for four years afterwards, I can definitely see its warts. This book did a great job at showing both the wonderful, magical things about the UK and the ridiculous, frustrating things about it as well.
Freddy and Fredericka are the Prince and Princess of Wales, definitely based on Di and Charles, and they live a life of luxury and vapidity. While Fredericka is getting expensive salon treatments done regularly, Freddy is pretending to be a heavy intellectual, but can actually barely function as a normal adult, as he keeps finding himself in ridiculous situations before the media. So, in order to prepare the couple for the crown, they are sent on a wild adventure to the USA to reclaim the lost colonies. From there, the story follows them from adventure to adventure as they clean toilets, meet a motorcycle gang, become unlicensed dentists, and save a presidential candidate’s campaign.
This is a fun book, especially for those of us who have a love of the royal family (or, conversely, hate the royal family). Although it certainly has modern sensibilities, it kept reminding me of Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey, as a ludicrous romp of a travel story (Also, I just really want to get former English major points by throwing that in there.) At times, I did find the wordplay humor to get a bit wearing (I understand British humor. I DO. I get the pun. I JUST DON’T THINK IT’S FUNNY. Sorry. It’s an old sore point.), and the author has a tendency to meander or overwrite certain passages, but all in all, Freddy and Fredericka is pure fun.