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Publisher's Summary

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
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Volacious on 06-22-17

Jolly good

A splendid book - it has its twists and its turns, and although at times you notice with a knowing smile its rather formulaic, traditional narrative structure/devices, it nonetheless charms you with its marvellous language, deliciously humorous anecdotes, and intriguing plot. And the way Stephen reads it, oh my, oh my.

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By Amazon Customer on 07-03-16

English delights and so much cocks

What did you like best about this story?

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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.

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Customer Reviews

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By MrY on 09-13-12

Fantastic Listen

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.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful


By LawrieBlaz on 07-01-15

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?

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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