Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Framed - by Frank Cottrell Boyce


From the Publisher
Dylan Hughes is the only lad living in his tiny Welsh town. He helps out in his family’s failing garage, managing the petrol log and keeping track of every single vehicle -- including the mysterious convoy of lorries that trundles up the misty mountainside one day. Local gossip soon sniffs out that the slate mines are being used to harbour a valuable collection of artwork, but Dylans more interested in Renaissance inspired Ninja Turtles than the real thing.... But then Dad leaves home, leaving Dylan man of the house and boss of the struggling business. A masterpiece worth a mint might be just what his family needs.

Wow! Just wow! Can I leave it at that? No? Ok, I’m dying to talk to someone about this book anyway. I have finished several books that I need to review, but as soon as I finished this one last night, I knew it had to take priority.

In Framed, Boyce explores how art affects people much like he explored how money changes people in Millions and the result is magnificent. Both books have fictional premises related to real events that make them seen plausible. In Framed, the National Gallery moves all of its painting to be stored in an abandoned mine to protect them after flooding in London makes them hard to insure in the city. The plot might sound crazy until you learn that during WWII the paintings from the National Gallery actually were packed up and stored in a quarry by a very small town. When Boyce learned about the evacuation, he found himself wondering how the world-famous art might have affected the townspeople and thus Framed was born. Dylan’s town, Manod, actually is so far behind the times one might think the book takes place during WWII if it wasn’t for a few modern references here and there like the Ninja Turtles, the movie The Italian Job, and text messaging.

A few parts of the book did seem a bit odd to me, but with Boyce I’ve come to expect a bit of unexplained quirkiness. The beauty in the book is the inventive characters Boyce creates. There’s not a boring person in the book, and I wouldn’t in a million years have guessed the wonderful ways different paintings would change the characters.

I think most people will love this book, but art enthusiasts will especially appreciate Boyce’s illustrations of the power that a few paintings can have when a handful of people have a chance to connect to them.

I think we need to nominate Frank Cottrell Boyce to Fuse #8's Hot Men of Children's Literature series. Some people probably thought Millions was just a fluke and Boyce is a movie man, not a real children's book author, but after reading Framed I don't think anyone can deny Boyce has established himself as an author, and I hope there is much mor to come from him.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

I totally agree with your review. The changing of the people's lives who viewed the art-like the umbrella parade and storefront windows-is awesome. The presence of the art opened the minds of the townfolk when the museum official assumed only those educated in art would be affected. That's the whole point of the master artists. They affect everyone. Yes, there is much quirkiness, but it's part of the appeal of the book. Frank Cottrell Boyce obviously thinks different from the norm, and some of his descriptions are absolutely perfect.
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