The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto | Mitch Albom

Kernel Kate reviews THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO from Mitch Albom. From Kate’s review the best summary I can give you is that it’s a magical music book in the vein of Forrest Gump and will be much loved by all. It sounds amazing and epic in it’s study of one man’s life in the world of music playing with mostly every musical talent in his career. I need to read this one myself!! THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO is out now from the fine folks at Hachette Australia, you should be able to locate this one in most bookstores or you can obtain it HERE in hardback or e-book. Enjoy Kate’s review…….all the best……JK.

 

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto Book Cover Image

 

BY KATE DAWES

From playwright, journalist and best selling author of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE and THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN Mitch Albom comes the magical story of the worlds greatest ever musician and his remarkable guitar in THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO.

Frankie Presto’s early life was fraught with danger. Born in a Spanish church at the same moment raiders break down the doors to set it on fire Frankie is saved for the first time by music with his mothers quiet singing enough to keep her baby from crying and save his life. A year later Frankie finds his life at risk again having been thrown into a river and left for dead. Pulled to safety by a hairless dog and taken in by a local factory owner who would become his adoptive father and nurture Frankie’s gift for music Frankie is on track to become one of the greatest musicians ever known if only he can stay out of harm’s way. Given guitar lessons by a blind musician staying out of trouble in Spain in the time of Franco is easier said than done and soon Frankie finds his young life turned upside down once again when his father is taken away and he takes refuge with his guitar teacher who gives Frankie the greatest gift and most prized possession he will own, a guitar with six magic strings.

Smuggled on board a ship with nothing but his guitar, alone and only nine years old, Frankie embarks on an adventure which will make him the ultimate musician and change lives along the way. Encountering and playing with musicians as diverse as Django Reinhardt, Duke Ellington, Elvis, Hank Williams, The Beatles and KISS. Frankie manages to become the ultimate star in a musical era that spans everything from classical Spanish guitar music, to the beginnings of rock and roll, the British invasion and Woodstock picking up musical influences from each of these phases but also borrowing some of their vices. With Frankie’s funeral starting his story and weaving through his life story to the end we see the triumphs and downfalls of the life of a great musician in dynamic times.

 

Author Mitch Albom Image
Author Image: Photographer Credit: Unknown

 

THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO is narrated for us by none other than musical talent itself who doesn’t hesitate to tell us right from the start how much of it Frankie has taken at birth. This ethereal presence as a narrator allows us to see the whole story from above, sometimes literally, giving us less insight in the characters thoughts and motivations on a personal level but allows the story to keep moving on. In a lot of ways THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO is reminiscent of Markus Zusak’s THE BOOK THIEF with death as the narrator and both having a conceptual, disembodied (but somehow) relatable presence guiding us through the story, the tone and feel of this overarching presence giving both novels an almost mythical quality.

Presto appears throughout to be almost the Forrest Gump of the musical world somehow managing to be at every significant musical event, involved in every movement and having had interactions with every musician. Albom achieves this by asking musicians including Burt Bacharach, Lyle Lovett, Paul Stanley, Tony Bennett and several others to contribute their ‘recollections’ of Frankie Presto on their way in to his funeral so in amongst music’s recollections of Frankie’s life we have the different voices of songwriters and musicians who ‘knew’ him.

While the music is central to Frankie’s story and is often the driving force in Frankie’s life pushing him in one direction or another, the story is also a study on the music industry and ofter on its pitfalls as well. From Frankie’s childhood we see music as something dangerous with his real love of it coming from forbidden songs and once he makes it to America leading him into dangerous situations but we also see it save him, allowing him to get out of war torn Europe and feed himself as an orphaned child. As his success grows Frankie is forced to choose between what he is best at and most passionate about or what is commercial. We also see Frankie torn between having a family with the love of his life and the spiral of drinking and drugs which almost tears him apart.

Living up to its name THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO weaves a tune which will stay in your head long after you’ve finished reading.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

Having always loved stories one of Kernel Kate’s most frequent childhood memories was her parents telling her in the early hours that it was way too late to still be reading and to go to sleep, but she would always sneak in the end of the chapter. Her love of stories led to a career in movies as well as remaining an avid reader of everything from novels to academic papers and junk mail. She makes a perfect reading machine fit to the Salty Cob.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where possible and images will be removed on request