Mark Helprin’s Freddy and Fredericka

by Jess

I picked up this rather large novel at the library, and holy crap, am I ever glad that I did. I’ve read Helprin’s Ellis Island and Other Stories, and it was…okay…but Freddy and Fredericka is nothing like it.

It surprises me that F and F has gotten rather mixed reviews. I adored it. It is hilarious and endearing and meaningful and surprising, in all the right places. A brief synopsis, from Helprin’s website:

Freddy is the Prince of Wales, Fredericka his troublesome wife. An overeducated, bumbling anachronism, Freddy commits one glorious gaffe after another, for which he is massacred daily in the British press. Golden-haired Fredericka is frivolous, empty-headed, and fond of wearing spectacular clothing with revealing necklines. Because of the epic public relations disasters caused by these wayward heirs to the throne, they are sent, in a little-known ancient tradition, on a quest to colonize a strange and barbarous land: America.


I haven’t had much time for fiction lately, but this book reminded me of what I’ve been missing and reignited my hunger for a good story. Prior to F and F, the only fiction I’ve read is the Hunger Games trilogy, which, let’s be honest, sucks goat balls. That’s right, I said that. And that’s not even a thing. That’s how poorly written I found the Hunger Games trilogy to be. I’m not saying I didn’t stay up late reading each book to find out what happened; I’m just saying that the whole time, I was coolly disdainful of the very successful Suzanne Collins.

Anyhoo, Freddy and Fredericka. Don’t be intimidated by its length (that’s what she said) because it’s very much worth a read.