In the tree-nestled Northern California town of Mira Flores, writer Rachel ("an aging typist with an unprofitable hobby" and her Scottish husband Neil prepare dinner for a familiar "crew" of guests - among them Neil's best friend, the burly, handomse Mike Spender, an irrepressible hedonist - and Mike's wife, the troubling Tilda Krall, a hard-bitten figure who carries her dark unknowability like an accusation.
Mike and Tilda have produced an enchanting daughter, Addie - who will also appear, unexpectedly, that night. As they ready the meal, Rae begs Neil to retell her the strange, twisted story of the Spenders - to include Mike's secret life, and what happened once Tilda learned of it. Neil and Rae cannot guess how the shock waves from that story will threaten to destroy their own marriage - after a mysterious catastrophe propels all five individuals into uncharted realities.
Recounting three love stories, Make It Stay explores the vision of an era - and how perception expands, as mortal limits draw near.
"The novel is a pitch-perfect blend of meticulously wrought sentences that support a slowly unraveling narrative of Northern California life. This is by far the best novel I've read all year, something the board members and jury of the Pulitzer Prize missed entirely, shortlisting the usual suspects and awarding the Prize for Fiction to no one this year. One can only hope the National Book Award will see beyond the insular confines of Manhattan and give Joan Frank a national literary prize well deserving of her talents." - Karl Wolff, Chicago Center of Literature and Photography
"Poetic and lively, Joan Frank's fifth book, 'Make It Stay', carries the dry wit and emotional weight that are mainstays of the Santa Rosa–based writer...her work is known to be astute, funny and wise, and this latest novel is no exception. Make It Stay takes place in the Northern California town of Mira Flores—which sounds suspiciously like Santa Rosa—and focuses on a writer, Rachel, and her Scottish husband, Neil. As the couple prepare a dinner party for a group of beloved old friends, Neil retells an old story about his best friend Mike and what happened when a secret life was revealed. After catastrophe strikes, the cadre of lovers and friends must figure out how to repair the damage, pick up the pieces and save what they love most." -North Bay Bohemian
"A genuine wonder of a book—a deeply moving reflection on the nature of friendship and love, how past informs present, life’s magnificent interconnectivity. An entire world is here, as Joan Frank deftly weaves a tale that illuminates the lives of her characters, their imperfections and desires revealed in least expected moments. Recognition unfolds into something resembling transformation. A story filled with the stuff of life—nothing less than astonishing."
— Matthew Iribarne, author of Astronauts and Other Stories
"A novel in triptych—the love story of Neil and Mike, the best friend who saves his life, and Neil and Rae, the woman who adores him. Gorgeously written."
— Jane Vandenburgh, author of A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century
"Joan Frank is a supple, graceful writer. Make it Stay follows the long sweep of a friendship between two men, and the toll it takes on their families. This novel ponders the mystery of personality—mining our own bewilderment with the actions of friends and lovers. I couldn't put it down."
— Alice Elliott Dark, author of Think of England and In the Gloaming
"A beautifully written love story—love between spouses and between friends—for those of us who know that the only story that matters is about the frightening fragility of life."
— Elizabeth Benedict, author of The Joy of Writing Sex; editor of Mentors, Muses & Monsters
Brilliant, moving, and original.
— Jeffrey Levine, author of Rumor of Cortez
Joan Frank is the author of four prior books of fiction. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the Richard Sullivan Prize, Dana Award, Michigan Literary Fiction Award, Iowa Writing Award and Emrys Fiction Award, and recipient of grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. She has taught Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, and lives in Northern California.