The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick

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What a wondrously imagined recreation of the lives of MFK Fisher, her husband, Al, and his best friend, Dilwyn Parrish. I feel as though I have traveled from Laurel Canyon, California to Dijon, France, and then on to Vevey, Switzerland with them, eating the sumptuous food and experiencing the angst that they endured from their impossible arrangement.

Ashley Warlick does not cast aspersions; her writing is completely objective in its telling of this love triangle.

There were a thousand ways to think about it: they would live like a family, like monks, like roommates, like freaks. He (Dilwyn) loved them both, and this was the only way to do it. He shuffled on the cobblestones; he was drunk. He doubted he could stay drunk forever, but in his slurriness he could see a dumb kind of chance for this to all work out. The three of them would make art, maybe great art. p. 216

For Dilwyn Parrish is an author and illustrator, Al Fisher is a writer, and his wife Mary Frances would become the famous author MLK Fisher.

Dilwyn, nicknamed Tim, and his young wife Gigi were friends with the Fishers in California. When Mary Frances slid herself into Tim’s bed one night, their relationship was irrevocably changed, even if Al didn’t quite know it yet.

Gigi went on to follow her lover, while Tim and Mary Frances formed an ever closer, and passionate bond. Their story reminds me of Hemingway, who laid first with one lover than another, trying to have it all without acknowledging that sacrifice is part of what polishes relationships into jewels. And now I’ve just done what Warlick did not, put my own opinion on an arrangement that could never work. For me, or these friends and lovers.

What does MFK Fisher write? When asked by a publishing house this was her perhaps fictitious answer: “Hunger,” she said. “I write about hunger for all kinds of things.”

In The Arrangement, Ashley Warlick depicted this hunger perfectly.

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10 thoughts on “The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick

    • The quote that sold me on reading this book was the praise in the front cover by Paula McLain. For a short novel, it took me a longer time to read than I thought it would because the language is so rich.

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  1. Love the photo and the book’s cover. I’m supposed to receive a copy of this one later this week and I can’t wait to read it after reading your post about it 🙂 By the by, I even mentioned your post to the publisher, because I enjoyed the sound of this book so much based on what you wrote.

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  2. This is the second time today that I’ve read of a book about M.F.K. Fisher in a blog post. I loved several of her books that I’ve read, Long Ago in France, How to Cook a Wolf, and Among Friends come to mind. I still have several unread on my shelf, too!

    The other book I heard about today is Provence 1970, written by her nephew, about her meeting with Julia Child and other foodies of the era. When I read her I feel that I am listening to my mother and my grandmother – even though neither of them was anything like her. I think it must be because she was born exactly between their birth years, and something of the voice of that era crosses the cultural divide.

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