cover image When Franny Stands Up

When Franny Stands Up

Eden Robins. Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-72825-600-9

In Robins’s smart and nuanced debut, a stand-up comedian draws inspiration from her pain in 1940s Chicago. After Franny Steinberg catches a female comic’s set at the Blue Moon comedy club, she wants nothing more than to launch a stand-up career of her own. But that’s a lofty goal in postwar Chicago, where she’s expected to get married and have children. After fits and starts, Franny transforms into stand-up comedian Peggy Blake, determined to find humor in her brother’s trauma as a POW during WWII and her own rape by a close family friend: “My twenty-first birthday, a family friend decided to make a woman out of me.... He had his finger blown off in the war—and by the end of the night, I wished he had lost... a different appendage. Sadly, they don’t call him Peter for nothing.” Robins overlays her convincing illustration of mid-century social repression of women with a stirring portrayal of Franny, who succeeds because of her willingness to speak frankly about taboo subjects. Supporting characters, especially fellow comics Hal and Boopsie, add texture. Readers will fall in love with this one. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary. (Nov.)