What happens between Cleopatra and Frankenstein, the book by newcomer Coco Mellors


By John

It will soon become one TV seriesproduced by Warner Bros, «Cleopatra and Frankenstein” (Einaudi, in the translation by Carla Palmieri), of the debutant Coco Mellors. English by birth, thirty-two years old, he studied creative writing at New York University in New York and lives in Los Angeles, the city where he set his beautiful novel (with an epilogue in Rome), a story that flows between expert dialogues and interesting prose , which, as the author writes, took seven years to come to light, but is being translated in ten countries, while Mellors already has a second novel ready for 2024, «Blue Sisters».
The protagonist is a couple observed over the course of a year of marriage: twenty-four-year-old Cleo, a very blonde English painter with an expiry permit in New York where she completed a master’s degree, and forty-five-year-old Frank, artistic director of an advertising agency, meet at night on New Year’s Eve, in the elevator, after escaping a typical New York party where alcohol, drugs, sex and eccentricity flow freely. Two different intelligences who immediately understand each other, between cultured irony and hilarious jokes, so much so that they decide to get married: Frank is attracted by Cleo’s golden and honey beauty (“her very blonde hair fell to her shoulders like two golden curtains that opened onto a show-face”), she who has already experienced the glittering life of New York through parties, art exhibitions and transgressive clubs, sees in that man, who is used to having nice people around him, a solid and positive person. Cleo, who has a family experience of pain and loneliness behind her, needs it, Frank needs it, intending to offer that girl, whose dark side he perceives, the possibility of being happy, of being able to paint freely together with the opportunity of the Green Card.
But love does not ensure the lasting happiness of a couple and then that glittering and winking New York, the true protagonist of the novel, “which offers you everything without knowing what you want” is also the place it takes and confuses in its vertigo. There is a human universe aimed at the frenetic search for oneself, around Cleo and Frank: extravagant friends, young women full of dreams, a great theater of existence, a gigantic factory of the possible, in which, between daily dystopias, between one party after another, between one drink and another, between uncertainty and restlessness, between transgressions and conformism, one fights to affirm one’s individuality, even if this inevitably involves going through suffering.