Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliphile

While I was planning Marchetta Madness, I knew I had to ask my good friend Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile to do a guest post (FYI she’s a fellow Melina Marchetta AND Megan Whalen Turner fan). I was delighted when she said she’ll do one about Saving Francesca, one of Marchetta’s contemporary YA novels. Give it up for Brandy!

How Saving Francesca Often Saves My Day

When people first began telling me I had to read Melina Marchetta’s books all the recommendations revolved around Jellicoe Road. I, in a completely typical move to only partially do what everyone was telling me, read Saving Francesca first instead. I of course followed it up quickly with Jellicoe Road and any other Marchetta book within reach, but Saving Francesca has remained my favorite and is the one I come back to most often. When I am in a bad mood or just feeling like life is working against me that is my go to book to feel better. Strange I know. It is not your typical “feel good” read. However books speak to us all in individual ways and that one never fails to make me feel better. Why is that?

I think it is mainly because I have had so many similar experiences to Francesca, but they are also different enough that reading her story doesn’t make me feel as though I’m reliving my own past. That is one of the aspects I appreciate most about Melina Marchetta’s writing, her ability to write such individual and complex characters that can still hold a universal appeal. I can see a little of myself in all of them, but they all have such unique personalities that I can never mistake them for myself and can therefore learn from them. Reading Saving Francesca is also the reminder I need on bad days that friendship is important and that the community we are a part of can make or break us. This is a common theme in all of Marchetta’s novels, but the ways it plays out in that one speaks to me the most. I have a tendency to want to seal myself off from the world and not want to deal with other people because it’s messy. Francesca’s story reminds me of the impact we have on each other as a group of friends and the way one small part of a community can change the greater community as a whole.

It should also be noted that I very much like Will and that plays a major role in my love for rereading this book. Of all the Marchetta boys he is the one I probably hear the least about, but it doesn’t get much better than him as far as I’m concerned. (Probably because he reminds me of my husband. You know that line where Francesca thinks, “I’m in love with a droid!”? I have this same thought at least three times a day.) I love the banter between the two of them and how the ways they are different from each other is what makes them so perfect together. Sigh.

And now I am feeling overcome with the urge to read the book again right this minute. And I’ll probably follow it up with a little bit of The Piper’s Son as well because how could I not?


I agree, books speak to us all in different ways. Thank you, Brandy, for sharing with us why Saving Francesca means so much to you. Also for giving Will some love – I think he took quite a beating in some of the other Marchetta Madness posts/comments. 😛 You’ve convinced me that I need to reread both Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son soon.

21 thoughts on “Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliphile

  1. I’m not sure why Will never seems to be a favourite – I think maybe because he didn’t seem to be a main character in Saving Francesca or The Piper’s Son. He’s always there, in the background. Its been a while since I read it, but wasn’t he quite quiet? I loved the banter between Will and Francesca but he never felt like he was quite a part of that group of friends.

    • Will is quite quiet and I agree that he is in the background more. I think that is part of why I like him so much. He is a part of Frankie’s story but doesn’t need to be all of it.

  2. I remember I read Saving Francesca soon after Jellicoe Road. Naturally my expectations were really high, but I ended up loving it a lot too.:) The friendships in this book were wonderful – all the characters just felt absolutely real.

    I’m still a bit surprised that not a lot of people like Will. But I guess it’s tough to compete against Jonah, Froi and Tom.:)

    • Celina, I felt the same way! I was surprised that there were readers who didn’t like Will – I thought he was a pretty good guy. But we’ll see, I’m rereading the book now. 🙂

  3. I agree, the friendships in this book (and all of MM’s books, actually) are simply stunning!

    “Francesca’s story reminds me of the impact we have on each other as a group of friends and the way one small part of a community can change the greater community as a whole.”

    ^^ So true!
    I love this post, Brandy! Saving Francesca is such a special book for me. 🙂

    [Though I’m still not a fan of Will, I’m sorry! I just don’t think he’s good for Frankie, I became very protective of her as I read this so I don’t think anyone would be good enough for her! He’s too serious and frowny… and there’s some other bits that I don’t want to go into just in case people haven’t read it yet! I didn’t hate him, though, and it just shows that when someone like Will (who is still a million times better than most ya love interests) is the short straw how brilliant MM is at writing love interests! I think I’m just comparing him to the others, who I like a lot more. But to me, anyway, SF wasn’t a love story in the typical sense… it was more of a love story between friends.]

    Ok, that turned into a bit of an essay. Woops. 🙂

    • Yes the friendships are brilliant and the backbone of all the books but it is particularly brilliant in this one (and The Piper’s Son).

      Re Will: Frownie-HA! Like I said he reminds me of my husband so loving him was kind of inevitable for me as I very much love my husband. To each her own though. 🙂

  4. ^ I agree it was more of a love story between friends and some of the most important, poignant moments happened when Will wasn’t there. Like when Francesca finally breaks down and cries and it’s Tom in particular who is there for her (someone correct me if Im totally wrong and Will is there though!)

    • Amy, I can even remember either! Which is a sign that a reread is in order. I just started on Francesca. Another thing that I love about MM’s novels is how significant relationships within the family and between friends are.

  5. This was beautiful to read, Brandy. I’ve always said that Francesca is the most personal of my novels and I’m so protective of her and her world. I’ve had so many friends and strangers sharing stuff with me because of the depression in the novel and it’s always been so confronting, but profound. Especially if they’ve confessed that they’d never spoken about it aloud before. And then of course there’s Will. One of my favourite lines of Jo’s poem was about him (my editor Amy loved the poem, Jo) Poor Will. He’s very awkward in the company of women and I came across a lot of boys and men like him when I was teaching. But apart form the old men my age in the novels, I love Will most.

    • Sigh, Marchetta Madness and all the guest posts and comments have convinced me that I need to reread Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son. I need to get to know Francesca, Will, Tom and the gang again. MM, I never even knew that you had this special connection with Francesca. I love what you said about readers coming up to you to share how they felt about the book and that they could relate – it’s wonderful when books can speak to people like that.

  6. I’ve always thought that Saving Francesca was the most approchable of Melina’s books. Even though in the US she’s more well known for Jellicoe, I always felt Francesca was pretty special as well – Alibrandi too, but I have to say it took me a little more to warm up to Josie.

    One of the things I love most about it is the Psycho Girls and Jimmy and Tom. I sure love Will and how practical he is, but the friendships make it for me in this book.

    • I agree, it’s very easy to get into Francesca (and yes, maybe Alibrandi too) so maybe I should be recommending that for first time readers of Marchetta’s work. It’s just that Jellicoe is the most well-known around the blogosphere and it was my introduction to her writing.

      I love the part where Tom told the girls that they’re called Bitch Spice, Butch Spice, Stupid Spice and Slut Spice and they can’t figure out who’s who.

  7. Such a great post! I like Will (and love Francesca & Will together), but I have to admit that there are times where I forget about him. heh He’s pretty funny though. And the humor was what I loved the most about SF! It’s weird because knowing what it’s about you wouldn’t think it would have much humor. But oh man…the things this group of awesome friends say to each other is freaking hilarious!! I just love it. X)

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