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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Arrangement


Publisher: Penguin Audio

Publication Date: 2/9/2016

Format: Audio

My Rating: 4 Stars

She’d made it sound as though her husband would be joining them for dinner. She’d made it sound that way on purpose, and then she arrived alone. Los Angeles, 1934. Mary Frances is young, restlessly married, and returning from her first sojourn in France. She is hungry, and not just for food: she wants Tim, her husband Al’s charming friend, who encourages her writing and seems to understand her better than anyone. After a night’s transgression, it’s only a matter of time before Mary Frances claims what she truly desires, plunging all three of them into a tangled triangle of affection that will have far-reaching effects on their families, their careers, and their lives. Set in California, France, and the Swiss Alps, The Arrangement is a sparkling, sensual novel that explores the complexities of a marriage and the many different ways in which we love. Writing at the top of her game, Ashley Warlick gives us a completely mesmerizing story about a woman well ahead of her time, who would go on to become the legendary food writer M. F. K. Fisher.

My Review

Carolina Southern author, Ashley Warlick, infuses fact with fiction with the exquisitely evocative THE ARRANGEMENT, Mary Frances Fischer (M.F.K)— legendary food writer and storyteller. From the classic front cover, a timeless story of a complex talented woman, her love of food and literature, her desires, passions, a love triangle, and life in the 1930s-40s.

M.F.K. Fisher books deal primarily with food, considering it from many aspects: preparation, natural history, culture, and philosophy. Fisher believed that eating well was just one of the "arts of life" and explored the art of living as a secondary theme in her writing.

Set in Depression -era California and prewar Europe, this sweeping literary tale is all about hunger — both for food and love. A wife, a lover, and an independent talented woman with desires.

Cassandra Campbell was the "perfect voice" for the audio book, delivering a magical and spellbinding performance-- for Mary Frances, the extraordinary food critic/author, and the secondary voices. (Highly recommend audio version). The sensual adventures of food writer M.F. K. Fisher will keep readers turning the pages (or glued to your listening device).

From 1934, Hollywood, Mary Frances Kennedy is married to Al Fisher, a college professor and poet. She is restless and bored. The Great Depression - times are tough. Her husband resents Mary Frances, whose talent as a writer is moving forward, and she resents Al for his lack of passion in and out of the bedroom. His writing is not going well. She wanted to make her marriage work; however, it does not seem possible.

She becomes involved in an affair with Dillwyn “Tim” Parrish, a painter, and writer--a great supporter of her work. Tim was older, a mentor and encourages her passion for writing—he taught her pleasure. A perfect match for her passion of romance and food.

Mary Frances wants more she wants to be successful, wants to be loved. Of course, in these times, divorce was unacceptable and the affair seemed to be the only logical choice. Tim, also married to a much young aspiring actress, Gigi. After she leaves him for another man, Mary Frances and Tim reconnect. However, the timing is off—Al is depressed, unable to write, perform, and suffering from the death of his father.

Torn, a love complex triangle. Scandalous. An entanglement. Pain and pleasure. Mary Frances struggles to choose between her husband and his friend, and decides instead to write--leaving behind Mary Frances, she becomes MFK Fisher.

A talented woman struggling to find a voice; a place in her world; illustrating the force that drives us to feed ourselves when we are hungry, in many ways. Spanning time and space, from California, France and the Swiss Alps--Rich in history, art, charm, travel, culture, cuisine, and epicurean delights, THE ARRANGEMENT —will make you appreciate the simple sensual pleasures of food and cooking.

In addition to the passion of food and wine, literary, and a sensuous love affair, the novel also reiterates how difficult it was during this era for a woman, both personally and professional.

Provocative, seductive, and sensuous –a perfect read for valentines, transporting readers to another place and time, assured to please culinary, foodies, literary, and historical romance fans. The characters come alive on the pages, and the author’s passion shines through—one to be savored.

Author Ashley Warlock, no stranger to food, knows her way around a kitchen. She calls herself “a passionate, obstinate home cook, as happy to read a cookbook as a novel.” The editor of the South Carolina quarterly food magazine Edible Upcountry.

A Charlotte, NC native, with hotel clients in the Charleston, SC area, so excited to discover this Southern author---my first book by Warlick, and look forward to reading more!

“Fisher is fascinating and enigmatic, in the way of many who seem to choose themselves as their principal subject,” Warlick says in press material. “And she was arguably the first woman to write about her own life through the lens of food, at a time when the only outlets women considered in this arena were cookbooks and housekeeping manuals. “Even by today’s standards, Fisher’s essays are intimate an d sexy, flirtatious, lush.

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher is not just the greatest American food writer who's ever played the game, she's one of our greatest writers, period. She was, variously, a travel writer, an essayist, a chronicler of American idylls, an observer of decline, of lack, of old fashioned custom and manners, a social critic, and a historian.

Other Reading: Fans of MFK Fisher, will want to read, The Theoretical Foot

Feb 9, 2016. When Robert Lescher died in 2012 an unpublished manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher’s was discovered neatly packed in the one of the literary agent’s signature red boxes. Inspired by Fisher’s affair with Dillwyn Parrish -- who was to become her second husband. (currently reading). This book accounts the latter days of the romance between Fisher and Parrish. The novel itself never saw publication while Fisher was alive. Recommend reading both--a fascinating woman!

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” ― M.F.K. Fisher

Review Links:


Advance Praise

“If you love historical fiction, you'll fall hard for this one. . . . Filled with food and passion, this is the perfect book to accompany a candlelit dinner.” —

"If you occasionally partake in culinary pleasures, you'll probably enjoy digging into Ashley Warlick's novelization of beloved food writer M. F. K. Fisher's life." —InStyle

"[Warlick's] writing is smooth and elegant. The love and anguish experienced as marriages unravel is palpable and painful to the reader.” —Historical Novel Society

"Stellar . . . A beautifully written treatment of love in its different forms." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Food writing fans may want to check out a novelization of the life of M.F.K. Fisher, focusing on . . . the more salacious personal details of the beloved food writer’s life." —The Millions, "Most Anticipated Books of 2016"

“A ravishing depiction of the time when M.F.K. Fisher was giving herself over to her essential appetites—for language, food and consuming passion. Ashley Warlick’s prose, sharp and true as the edge of a honed blade, is a revelation. Absolutely dazzling.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“Written in language both sensuous and evocative, The Arrangement is the story of a woman who hungers to experience everything in life. A compelling story about the costs—and risks—of being true to one's self, and the courage it takes to live against convention.” —Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

“I devoured and loved every word of Ashley Warlick’s audacious imagining of M.F.K. Fisher’s great love affair. The Arrangement is a powerful, enthralling, delectable thrill.” —Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man

“A sophisticated and unapologetic tale of wayward desire that I read far too long into the night, worrying about how M.F.K. Fisher could possibly solve her excruciating dilemma—a dilemma that is at once impossible, seductive, and heartbreaking.” —Robin Oliveira, author of My Name is Mary Sutter

“Ashley Warlick spins a beguiling tale of a complicated woman, sensuous and multi-layered as the food she chronicles. A scrumptious treat.” —Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Expatriates

“The Arrangement gives vivid voice to the complicated, fascinating, rule-breaking M.F.K. Fisher. Ashley Warlick brings the famous food writer’s world to life in sensual and deliciously literary detail.” —Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

“Warlick skillfully reveals the story of a young woman’s sensual and creative awakening with meticulous craft and fervent splendor.” —J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest

“Ashley Warlick brings M. F. K. Fisher to life, revealing the depths of her restless, complicated, hungry soul. This is a book to be savored.” —Ann Mah, author of The Art of French Eating

About the Author

ASHLEY WARLICK is the author of four novels; the most recent, The Arrangement, will be published in February 2016. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, her work has appeared in The Oxford American, McSweeney’s, Redbook, and Garden and Gun, among others. She teaches fiction in the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the editor of the South Carolina food magazine edibleUpcountry.

Warlick is also a partner at M. Judson, Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, SC, where she lives with her family. Read More






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