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You Come Too

My Journey with Robert Frost
Lesley Lee Francis. Foreword by Jay Parini


BUY Cloth · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937458 · $34.95 · Dec 2015
BUY Ebook · 288 pp. · ISBN 9780813937465 · $34.95 · Dec 2015

Robert Frost observed in his wife, Elinor, a desire to live "a life that goes rather poetically." The same could be said of many members of the Frost family, over several generations. In You Come Too, Frost’s granddaughter, Lesley Lee Francis, combines priceless personal memories and rigorous research to create a portrait of Frost and the women, including herself, whose lives he touched.

Francis provides a vivid picture of Frost the family man, revealing him to be intensely engaged rather than the aloof artist that is commonly portrayed. She shares with us the devastation Frost and Elinor experienced when faced with tragic illnesses, both physical and mental, and the untimely death of family members. Elinor’s own death added to the poet’s despair and unleashed complex feelings throughout the family. (Francis’s mother would lament the toll taken on Elinor by what she perceived as Frost’s "selfishness" in the life he had chosen.)

This is also the story of Lesley Frost, Francis’s remarkable mother, who struggled to emerge from her celebrated father’s shadow, while, as one of the people closest to him, sharing his intuitive impulse to write and to indulge their mutual love of books and poetry. Francis would herself become yet another writer and, like her grandfather and mother before her, a teacher--despite sharing Frost’s sense of being "imperfectly academic." In addition, Francis explores Frost’s professional relationships with women outside the family, such as the poets Harriet Monroe, Amy Lowell, and Susan Hayes Ward.

Francis’s invaluable insights into Frost’s poetry and her inclusion of previously unpublished family writings and photographs make this book essential to Frost scholarship. But You Come Too will appeal to anyone interested in this great poet’s life and work. It also reveals unforgettable stories of strong, independent women and their passion to create and share poetry.

Reviews:


The word intrepid should move somewhere in the invitational title of this memoir. You Come Too—and hang on, because it's quite a​ride. Poetry and the love of books make this memoir go. Lesley Lee Francis brings to life what she calls "the peculiar dynamic" of a literary family like no other I can name. I’ll take as an emblem, a part for the whole of the book, an image of Lesley Frost​ (the author's mother)​atop an Army transport plane in 1943—when her daughter was twelve—changing out the 28-spark plugs of a 2000-horsepower engine. What remarkable women populate this book, its author chief among them, and what a testament they are to a side of Robert Frost that only Francis could have brought between two covers.

Mark Richardson, coeditor of the Library of America’s Robert Frost: Collected Prose, Poems, and Plays

The journey that Lesley Lee Francis took with her grandfather (literally and figuratively) was deeply personal. Those in love with the poetry of Robert Frost will find themselves enchanted, illumined, and grateful to the author for undertaking this journey.

From Jay Parini’s foreword

You Come Too meaningfully expands our understanding of Robert Frost by providing us with a rich and vibrant account of him as a family man. As the poet's granddaughter, Francis has special insight and access to the humanity of this great writer. At last we see Frost as a real man surrounded by the complexities and challenges of family life, especially at that crucial moment of his life, the death of his beloved wife, Elinor. This is a necessary book for any serious study of Frost.

Dana Gioia

This is the nearest we can come to being in the same room as the Frost family at key moments, as well as in everyday living. The layers of mythmaking and the years of variably accurate interpretations are pared down to an essential witness. Dr. Francis puts the record straight once and for all, and our understanding of the poetry is the richer for it.

Seán Street, Emeritus Professor, Bournemouth University, author of The Dymock Poets

Francis, a granddaughter of Robert Frost, says this book is a memoir but grants its biographical qualities and basis in scholarship—hers—as well as her own life. It is something altogether extraordinary, an insider’s view of a great family that constantly but hardly deliberately reminds us that it is personal.... Francis neatly balances anecdote, commentary, and emotion-laden incident throughout.... It is hard to imagine a better book about the poet and his most intimate heritage.

BOOKLIST starred review

The quiet affection with which [Francis] gathers the various pieces of [Frost's] biography together renders even her unanswered questions a powerful inroad to the poet. You Come Too breathes new life into Frost's story and is sure to initiate interesting conversations in college classrooms.

Foreword

Francis takes a closer look at her grandfather’s relationship with women and children....Frost once remarked that it is best "not to have children remember you as having taught them anything in particular. May they remember you as an old friend." Were he alive today, he would certainly be pleased to be remembered as such here.

The Washington Free Beacon

She (Francis) combines her personal experience and memories of her mother and grandfather with academic research and scholarly analysis; and frequently she provides excerpts from letters, diaries, and travel articles.

Linda Hart and James Armstrong · Friends of the Dymock Poets News Letter

About the Author: 

Lesley Lee Francis is a retired professor of Spanish language, literature, and history. The author of Robert Frost: An Adventure in Poetry, 1900-1918 and organizer of the annual Frost Symposium, she has written and lectured extensively on her grandfather.

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