Martin's increasingly desperate scheme turns out to involve betting all that he owns, and much that he doesn't. He falls from his domestic haven into a kind of comic hell as he is drawn into an ever more tangled web of deceit, and an ever more hair-raising intimacy with the landowner's reckless wife.
Writing with biting wit and a perfect eye for the lessons of art and the shifting shapes of self-deception, Michael Frayn has given us entertainment of the highest order; a supremely wise, and wickedly funny, portrait of the human condition.
©1999 Michael Frayn; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
"He's made a funny, fast-moving book out of a man reading other books." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Part detective story, part art history lesson, part cautionary tale, and entirely funny." (The New Yorker)
Frayn, the author, is such a cynic and Davidson, the narrator, so dry, that the book is a great pairing of writer and reader. Very English, so expect to learn a great deal about class, and very learned, so expect to learn a great deal about art.
I wouldn't have wanted this story read by any other voice. I adored listening to the stuffy, oh-so posh narration. And the story is fabulous. I didn't know anything about Netherlandish art prior to reading this book. I'll never look at a tiny detail in a painting again without wondering if it has some sort of political meaning.
After readying the publisher's summary I was ready for "biting wit" and "entertainment of the highest order". What I got was numerous long, dreary art history lessons, and a mild dose of drama, but very little biting wit. I generally love anything that Frederick Davidson reads but not even he could bring this one out of the dumps.
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