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Spies
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About the Author

Michael Frayn is the author of ten novels, including the bestselling Headlong, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice selection and a Booker Prize finalist. He has also written thirteen plays, among them Noises Off and Copenhagen, which won three Tony Awards in l999. He lives in London.

Reviews

Following up Booker Prize finalist Headlong and the Tony Award-winning Copenhagen, Frayn crafts a story of World War II London, where two boys playing at spy discover things about family and neighbors they shouldn't know. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

By the author of the bestselling Booker Prize finalist Headlong, this dark, nostalgic and bittersweet parable evokes the childhood escapades of an isolated and hapless young boy caught up in the uncertainties of wartime London in the early 1940s, just after the horrors of the Luftwaffe blitz. Stephen Wheatley, now a grandfather living abroad, is drawn back to London to revisit his boyhood home, to deal with the complexities and eventual tragedy engendered by what seemed a harmless game of spy when he was just a schoolboy during WWII. His best friend at the time was Keith Hayward, the bright son of rather standoffish parents; Keith and Stephen embark on a childish adventure after Keith announces that his British mother is a German spy. The murky plot follows their frustrations as they try to shadow Keith's mum as she goes through the mundane ritual of stopping by her sister's house with letters and a shopping basket, only to disappear into the neighboring streets. Discovering at last that she takes a route through the culvert beneath the railroad and leaves letters in a box hidden on the other side, they eventually learn that she sometimes meets a tattered, bearded tramp hiding in a bombed-out cellar. When Keith's mum finally realizes they have found her out, she secretly seeks Stephen's loyalty, making him complicit. Thrust into a role far beyond his years, but helpless to refuse, he is overwhelmed. As it plays out to a surprising denouement, this enigmatic melodrama will keep readers' attention firmly in hand. (Apr. 3) Forecast: Fans of Headlong may miss that novel's dark comedy, but those who appreciate Frayn for the rigorous intelligence of his fiction will find him in fine form here. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

." . . a master of intellectual mystery masquerading as ripping popular entertainment. . .a gorgeous melancholy that shivers the mind." --The New York Times Book Review"Marvelously effective. . .a novel of extraordinary power and wisdom, a tour de force of humane insight." --The Baltimore Sun"Bernard Shaw couldn't do it, Henry James couldn't do it, but the ingenious English author Michael Frayn does do it: write novels and plays with equal success. [He] has extended his reach and seriousness while keeping a sprightly intellectuality." --John Updike, The New Yorker"In Spies, recollections of actual things--the 'disconcerting perfume' of privet hedges in bloom and the flavor of lemon barley water--make Frayn's story so real you can taste it." --Boston Herald"[Spies] convinces American readers that Frayn, author of some thirteen novels and sixteen plays, is a literary double threat." --The Boston Globe"In this very English novel, secrets assume an unexpected power and excitement as Frayn reveals that a little of the fascist is buried in every clever child, and that spying can be a soul-destroying game." --Chicago Sun-Times

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