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The Member of the Wedding

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  9,430 ratings  ·  709 reviews
Here is the story of the inimitable twelve-year-old Frankie, who is utterly, hopelessly bored with life until she hears about her older brother’s wedding. Bolstered by lively conversations with her house servant, Berenice, and her six-year-old male cousin — not to mention her own unbridled imagination — Frankie takes on an overly active role in the wedding, hoping even to ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 26th 2001 by Penguin (first published 1946)
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Jan 03, 2011 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Return to Send Her
Recommended to Mariel by: Loyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken
Carson McCuller's The Member of the Wedding is my unrequited love story in my stable of hos: those lyrically intimate classical works I've read that stayed with me because they were confiders of sorts, someones I could go to and find some sort of explanation inside, a relating that was more than good enough of itself. (And I get my belt when they don't put out for me.) (I don't wanna say cathartic because this book isn't like that. It's often uncomfortably painful in the don't-wanna-be-reminded- ...more
Have you ever picked up a book you are certain you have read before and found that nothing feels familiar on reading it again. Of course the first time I read it was for a college course in 1967 so there may be a valid reason aside from lost brain cells...simple time or perhaps short cuts for class. But when I reached almost the very end of the book, one plot point did seem familiar and now my doubts about truly having read it are gone.

As for the book itself, Frankie/ F. Jasmine/ Frances is a wo
I'd imagine the word 'universal' gets thrown around a lot in regards to this work. The temptation of it is exactly why I am excising it from my vocabulary, for even the small amount of literature I've read in the culverts of unacknowledged canon were enough to show the lie of the word. I find an immense amount of resonance in this work, resonance structured on a foundation of tokenism, sentimentality, and other measures of self-willed isolation commonly shared with other white people works of 'u ...more
Barry Pierce
I've finally jumped feet first into the succulent literary world of Carson McCullers and I've found myself not drowning but floating lightly around observing the minuscule nuances of Southern life. The Member of the Wedding is a subtle but loud novel. It comes packaged with all the traits of Southern Gothic but it transcends and subverts the genre in such a way to dig itself out of its Faulknerian tragedy and into something that has been crafted by only the finest of word smiths. The narrator Fr ...more
The pure magic that McCullers creates with the written word makes this worth 4 stars right off the get go. She gives us the character of Frankie or F. Jasmine who is so ready to leave 12 years behind and move forward that she is a bundle of nerves and dreams. She doesn't feel like she fits in her skin any more and is so anxious to shed it and find out who she is suppose to be. That terrible angst of adolescence, the feeling that you are suppose to be doing something else, while not quite sure y ...more
Carson McCullers was an author who used her writing to search for God and to explore her own questions about sexual identity. In The Member of the Wedding her main character, who is called Frankie, turns 12 and begins to try to figure out how she is going to navigate her way around this big old lonely world. Will she do it with a “crew-cut”, wearing a Mexican hat and with “rusty elbows”, or will she seek adventure in exotic places with “Esquimaux” by train in silver slippers with her hair in cur ...more
--WWII time period
--Berenice, the black housekeeper who is a storyteller and surrogate mother to the adolescent protagonist
--Descriptions of Southern food (eaten in kitchen, where much of the action transpires)
--The threesome of the adult female black housekeeper, the adolescent girl, and the six-year-old boy cousin, as a group
--brevity of book

Warmed up to:
--Slow pace of book, which was more difficult in the early part of the book
--Southern milieu (which can be good or bad -- depends on
Yes, a gem! Why I found it amazing and thus worth five stars is explained below in the partial review.

I will only add here a bit about the book's setting: Georgia, 1944-45. You see the world through the eyes of 12 year old Frankie, or F. Jasmine Addams. SHE, not I, will explain to you why she appropriated this name. Not only do you see the emotional turmoil of a preteen but you also get the racial tensions in the South and the tension created by the War. We know it is 1944 from the simple line t
I was drawn to this story of 12-year-old Frankie, who is restless and fearful and jealous of anyone who is happy, because she is such a jumble of adolescent angst.

"This was the summer when Frankie was sick and tired of being Frankie. She hated herself, and had become a loafer and a big no-good who hung around the summer kitchen ... The war and the world were too fast and big and strange. To think about the world for very long made her afraid. She was not afraid of Germans or bombs or Japanese.
Allie Whiteley
Frankie Addams is 12 and feels like she doesn't fit in. Physically she may have a point - tall for her age she towers above her peers and this compounds the natural anxiety of adolescence. She never knew her mother, her best friend has moved away - even her precious cat has gone missing. And now her brother is to be married and she is jealous.

The Member of the Wedding concerns Frankie's feelings about this impending wedding and how she deals with it when it does, in fact, go ahead. We learn abo

Sad Cafe, Golden Eye, Lonely Hunter - it is bold to say it, but this, could well be my favourite of all.

Twelve year old Frankie is Lonely Hunters Mick Kelly at a fever pitch. She's like a tornado of pain, trying to tear her young self out.

What makes this novel brilliant though: Frankie, Berenice and John Henry in that dingy kitchen, talking large over hoppingjohn, corn bread and ham from the knuckle. Rolling eternal thoughts among them like dice and landing on crazy. You have to read it to se
Such a vivid, cruel when necessary, and yet unhysterical account of a 12 & 5/6th year old girl. She's filled with intense emotions that she doesn't have names for, eagerness, desperation. This is a book that describes how it feels to be this person--how it feels to be a smart girl somewhere in the mush between kid and adult, engaging in adult ideas but with a child's facility. McCullers is brave, she doesn't shy away from the horror of being alive, and yet never loses her warmth.
i don't think i've read a more beautiful book.
Ruth Turner

I'm really disappointed. I thought I'd love this, but I didn't even like it.

The story dragged, it was boring and it irritated me. I skimmed the last half just to get it over and done with.

I didn't like any of the characters, not even Berenice. I found Frankie obnoxious, and wanted nothing more than to box her ears.

Reading it was a chore!

Frankie is feeling lonely, and isolated in this coming-of-age story: "It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around doorways, and she was afraid." Her mother died when Frankie was born, her father is distant, and her best friend moved away. Frankie wonders if she might turn into a f ...more
Lonely motherless tomboy confronting sudden adolescence, prompted by her older brother's wedding. Some similarities with "To Kill a Mocking Bird" ( - in terms of character, situation, location etc. Very evocative re hot Southern summer etc.

McCullers has a very consistent voice, and yet somehow her books are distinct from each other. In particular, lyrical and more literal musical aspects to much of her writing (reflecting the fact she very nearly became a
Diane Barnes
Frankie Addams is one of those rare fictional characters who has entered my soul and wedged her way into a little corner where she will remain forever. The dialog in this small novel rings so true I can hear it still. It is no small feat to get inside the head of a 12 year old girl and let us feel the fear and confusion on the cusp of entering into the strange world of adulthood. We are also allowed into the head of Berenice, the black housekeeper who is Frankie's confidant and champion, and in ...more
The Member of the Wedding continues in the tradition of Carson McCullers' breakthrough novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a book that I can't seem to shake out of my system (and love more every time I think about it). In this short novel, Frankie/F. Jasmine/Frances is another McCullers misfit, this time a pre-adolescent girl whose dreams are too big for her small town and her small world.

While the plot isn't extraordinarily complex (basically it's the story of one lazy summer when Frankie drea
A perfect match! Susan Sarandon does an amazing job of narrating this beautiful book. Her voice is so melodious and expressive. She changes her voice for the different characters and she's just so clear and articulate. The coming of age story of Frankie Adams takes place in the 3 day lead up to her brothers wedding. I loved Frankie (and F. Jasmine) with her hopes and dreams ... and that growing foreboding that things are not going to end well for Frankie and she's sure to be disappointed. I list ...more
Duffy Pratt
The major theme of McCullers work is peoples' inability to connect, and I wonder if she made her point, because I simply could not connect to anyone in this book. As with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, I have the suspicion that I would have loved this book if I could have cared for, or identified with the characters. But for McCullers, that seems to be an impossibility, and it strikes me as a strange pre-occupation for a novelist. If you can't connect with others, then who are you writing about, ...more
Po Po

Well, about 25 or so pages into this, I realized this was a book I read in highschool. (Too bad GR wasn't around way back then because I'd have accurate records for already-read books.)

I know now why I forgot this story. It's altogether forgettable.

It's a coming-of-age story, but from beginning to end, Frankie remains lost and miserable.

If you like reading about conversations between two kids and a middle-aged servant then this is for you.

The story wasn't completely terribly though. There were s
A fantastic explication of what 'crazy' feels like. McCullers nails loneliness. Again.

For me, even more than in 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,' the characters reveal their skeletons in a way that doesn't separate you from their pain, but instead forces you to stare in gawky horror at the similarities between yourself and them.

And yet, McCullers also manages to allow the reader to hope, to think of the future, to imagine a world where wounds are healed and scars start to scab over and fade away.
GENIUS!: my candy opinion.
Thing Two
May 29, 2011 Thing Two rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thing Two by: Susan Roby
Shelves: state-georgia
An achingly sad coming-of-age story about 12-year-old F. Jasmine Addams who just wants to belong. Her mother died when she was born, her best friend has moved away, and now her brother is getting married and moving, too. Her only friend in the world is her six-year-old cousin John Henry. She convinces herself that being a member of the wedding means her brother and new sister-in-law will take her away. She feels caught in her dull life and yearns to escape.

Midway through this short book, her ho

It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around in doorways, and she was afraid. In June the trees were a bright dizzy green, but later the leaves darkened, and the town turned black and shrunken under the glare of the sun. At first Frankie walked around doing one thing and another. T
I was mesmerized by this book. I listened to it during dog walks and a drive to a family reunion. I was worried I wouldn't be able to really grasp the language and syntax (things I'm crazy about). Let alone the story. But Susan Sarandon read it to me, and I loved every dripping moment, and there were many moments I listened to again and again. I don't even know where to begin to say what I admire about this book. It's brilliant. Knocked my socks off. McCullers captures life in a small southern t ...more
In one specific way McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding was the most explicitly “queer” book I've read in a while: the term itself constantly, even obsessively reappears throughout this short novel, it repetition slowly developing into a kind of incantation, transforming material that could easily have become dull and unnoteworthy and trite into something rich and vivid and almost oversaturated with potential meaning. In McCullers’s capable hands the nondescript rural Southern town in which th ...more
Jim Hale
The Library of America collected edition calls this one her masterpiece and I think I agree. The dialog is masterful, some of the best there is. Many times McCullers amazed me, as at least one-third of the book takes place at the breakfast table, with only three characters. She never loses the momentum and the conversations never tire. No wonder this story enjoyed a long run on Broadway.

As a Southerner raised in a blue collar environment, I'm sensitive to the way "Southern" authors portray uned
I borrowed this from the library after I recently read ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’ with pretty much no expectations and adored it. But I think this book is even better for its brevity and its superb control of its form. The author was a little more experienced this time around, and despite its relatively short length and limited cast of characters, this book exhibits a remarkable range of different tones and ideas. It’s clearly recognisable as a product of the same imagination which created ‘ ...more
Watching paint dry. Watching grass grow. Remember how slow time went during the summer when you were 12? Too old for a babysitter, too young to drive or work. Think how slower it went back in the 1940s with no tv, no internet, maybe one station coming in on a radio. A Southern house would be stifling with no a/c and a hot dinner (at noon) expected on the table.

So McCullers sets the scene a bit too's a slow slough for the first 5/6ths of the book. Sure, some pretty writing and great ch
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Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917 – September 29, 1967) was an American writer. She wrote fiction, often described as Southern Gothic, that explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South.

From 1935 to 1937 she divided her time, as her studies and health dictated, between Columbus and New York and in September 1937 she married an ex-soldier and aspiring writer, Reeves McCul
More about Carson McCullers...

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“The trouble with me is that for a long time I have just been an I person. All people belong to a We except me. Not to belong to a We makes you too lonesome.” 85 likes
“She was afraid of these things that made her suddenly wonder who she was, and what she was going to be in the world, and why she was standing at that minute, seeing a light, or listening, or staring up into the sky: alone.” 50 likes
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