One hit wonder, recluse author M M Banning is broke, “swindled of her fortune by a crooked investment adviser.” She contracts to write a second novel, after 20 years, if her publisher provides a healthy advance and an assistant “bankrolled by the publisher.” When Alice arrives, her only duty is to take care of the nine-year-old, eccentric son, Frank. Frank’s daily attire includes tailcoats, yacht wear, cufflinks, a top hat, and a fez. He can neither be touched nor can he stand having his possessions touched. Either could cause a complete breakdown. He speaks in encyclopedia entries and makes observations far beyond his years, “as if he were reading off a teleprompter in the middle distance.” He constantly reminds people that his IQ is higher than 97.9% of other people. Alice tries her best with Frank but she had assumed that she would be transcribing the author’s work onto the computer to send to the publishing firm not babysitting an eccentric child.
Frank is a lot of fun but like so many books has a weak ending. It is still an enjoyable ride.