March 09, 2007

Transformative Powers of Art

Frank Cottrell Boyce's Framed is a funny story in which really, nothing much happens... but in another way, everything happens.

In the gray, wet, dreary (and did I say gray) town of Manod, once a slate-mining town in the dreary hills of Wales, Dylan Hughes realizes that he's the last boy standing in the whole town. See, there's no money, and everyone is, well... leaving. There's no one with whom to play soccer anymore, and all he really wants in life is have a good kick around. Max, his baby brother, is a year old... six more years before they can kick around a ball. The service station and garage his Dad runs together with the family (as Team Hughes)is slowly going Dad's a bit too worried to play much. Mom and Dad, Minnie, Dylan and Marie all have a plan to save the family business (Max would have one, too, if he weren't drooling). Mom's plan is to serve espresso drinks at the service station. That kind of works. Dad's plan is to buy and restore a Mini Cooper and sell it. That ...doesn't work. Minnie's plan seems to be to lock herself in her room and obsess over not being beautiful forever, which is completely annoying and helpful to no one. Marie's plan is that someone should steal a painting. Unfortunately, there IS a painting around to be stolen... The National Gallery is temporarily storing paintings from London in some old slate mines while an insurances snafu at the gallery is worked out. Dylan, whose affection for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has caused him to name the family chickens after them, catches the attention of one Quentin Lester, the art curator from the National Gallery who is in charge of this Wales portrait expedition. He brings Dylan up to show him the world of art. And art changes ... everything.

A fast-paced, silly and touching book about a loving family and the love of art, Framed will make you open an art book or Google the titles of the paintings in hopes of seeing some of the great stuff that changed Manod from someplace to live, to someplace to be alive.


Anonymous said...

I almost checked this one out when I first saw it at the library a few months ago, but I still haven't gotten around to it. I'll have to move it up on the list...

Anonymous said...

Oh, I LOVED this one too. Maybe my favorite of all in 2006.