Stephen Fry's breathtakingly outrageous debut novel, by turns eccentric, shocking, brilliantly comic and achingly romantic. Adrian Healey is magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life; unprepared too for the afternoon in Salzburg when he will witness the savage murder of a Hungarian violinist; unprepared to learn about the Mendax device; unprepared for more murders and wholly unprepared for the truth.
©1991 Stephen Fry (P)1995 Random House Audio
British comedian Stephen Fry's first novel is a witty love letter to English philology and the author's semi- and pseudo-autobiographical experiences in Britain's elitist and—if the author, who kindly begins his novel with the line “Not one word of the following is true”, is to be believed—highly homoerotic public schools.
Written in a series of jump-forwards and flashbacks the story follows Adrian Healey, a flamboyant gay intellectual growing up in Thatcherian period England, whose excel in wittiness is only bested by his remarkable ability to deceive. This trait eventually captures the interest of his Cambridge tutor Professor Donald Trefusis, through whom Healey becomes intertwined with a sort of daffy albeit singular Cold War spy adventure.
Fry's dapper treatment of the English language is certainly the most enjoyable part of this light-hearted fiction filled with juvenile but clever and high-brow but stinging jokes and fables, and this delight is only heightened when the book is listened to narrated by the author himself (audiobook available on Audible, for example). The constant jumps between three different periods in the protagonist's life can, however, make the story strenuous to follow and, frankly, fail (at times) to keep up the suspense and/or mystery that the author probably intended for these jumps to convey.
Apart from all the churlish (but funny) sexual affections of the protagonist (or the narrator) the novel does also have a deeper theme of questioning what is the meaning of lies, fictions and untruths in the formation of anything that is truly human, and for that I would recommend it not only as light summer reading but serious food for thought for anyone interested in the humanistic sciences.
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry.
Firstly, I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry. I sat down to listen to this story with great excitment. Perhaps my expectations were too high. The story was leaden and Mr Fry seemed less than thrilled to be reading it. I confess to falling asleep at times and having to rewind. So I suppose if you are having trouble sleeping this may be a good buy, otherwise stick to other titles with Stephen Fry as narrator/presenter.
Loved this from start to finish, very intimate detail in places, so maybe not for a prude, but very very entertaining. The characters develop well and you really start to get to know them. Being read by the author (Esp when it is Stephen Fry) is always a bonus.
"What the damn hell?"
Terrible story telling. All over the place. Stuck on because I enjoy Mr Fry's writing & I had nothing else to listen to. What?
As always the soothing tones of Stephen Fry make this audiobook a pleasure to listen to. Fry adds unique voices and the correct level of tone, pitch and intention into the text, working hard to really bring it alive.
I would have given this 5*'s but the book was let down by the bizarre ending! A fault of the story line and not the audio reading!
Great story. Takes a bit of following as it jumps around different timelines. Plenty of twists and turns to leave you guessing what's around the corner.
Listened to it twice now, excellent book. Can't get enough of Stephen Fry's publications, there's alway a twist at the end
"It is probably what you'd expect...."
...which means if you are a fan of the man you will enjoy this. I am and did but would understand others finding it a little impenetrable; if not odd, blending as it does the Worlds of public schools, Cambridge, cricket, Piccadilly rent boys and espionage!
...and playful Stephen teases with the reader throughout to work out the semi-autobiographical bits....and those bits that are lies!
absolutely wonderful reading, fry is totatly on point ,but very unappetising story and ridiculous ending.
"Funny, witty and very well acted"
Funny, Witty, interesting
I've honestly got nothing to compare this to. It is very stange with a winding plot that still remains interesting. The individulal scenes are excellantly written and acted. Especially near the end.
He is the greatest voice actor in the world. I think that is understood. The book wouldn't be half as good without him and he's the reason i bought the book.
If you like Stephen Fry in both his writing and voice acting then buy this book. If you don't like him then you won't like this. It is Stephen to the core.
"Incredible characters imaginative story"
I have fallen in ... lib with both Adrian Healey and Donald Trefuses.
Mr mendacious and Doctor duplicitous are two of the most roguishly likeable characters I have had the pleasure of reading about and thus imagining.
I urge anyone to purchase, listen then listen again and perhaps again.
The character is pretty much Fry himself and that spoilt the book for me. I find myself wanting him to move away from his own experiences and write about something else. That said it is of course brilliantly read and wonderfully worded. Of course maybe the fact that this character is a cheat and a liar is Fry's way of empahsising that here he is passing off this work of fiction when it's nothing more than himself inserted into a story?! Maybe he's being Ironic - I dont know, I liked it but he's done better.
Report Inappropriate Content