A Novel

Book - 1999 | 1st American ed.
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An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old Master.

Invited to dinner by the boorish local landowner, Martin Clay, an easily distracted philosopher, and his art-historian wife are asked to assess three dusty paintings blocking the draught from the chimney. But hiding beneath the soot is nothing less-Martin believes-than a lost work by Bruegel. So begins a hilarious trail of lies and concealments, desperate schemes and soaring hopes as Martin, betting all that he owns and much that he doesn't, embarks on a quest to prove his hunch, win his wife over, and separate the painting from its owner.

In Headlong, Michael Frayn, "the master of what is seriously funny" (Anthony Burgess), offers a procession of superbly realized characters, from the country squire gone to seed to his giddy, oversexed young wife. All are burdened by human muddle and human cravings; all are searching for a moral compass as they grapple with greed, folly, and desire. And at the heart of the clamor is Breugel's vision, its dark tones warning of the real risks of temptation and obsession.

With this new novel, Michael Frayn has given us entertainment of the highest order. Supremely wise and wickedly funny, Headlong elevates Frayn into the front rank of contemporary novelists.
Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, c1999.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780805062854
Branch Call Number: FRAYN
Characteristics: 342 p. ; 25 cm.


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Jul 17, 2013

Having some familiarity with Bruegal's paintings may keep your interest in this story as a good portion of it concerns the details found in his paintings and the sources of inspiration for these depictions. Surrounding those descriptions of course is the story of an art historian who thinks he has found one of Bruegal's lost paintings and tries to get a hold of it bankrupting himself in the meantime and threatening his happy family life. It's a story of obsession, interpretations of paintings, and finding "a good deal" for priceless art. Very enjoyable!

Sep 09, 2012

This story is set in the context of the comic misadventure of a would-be art historian and in the style of a detective novel. It is very good on the historic period and on Breugel's art. I particularly liked how Frayn "reads" a painting in terms of its icongraphy and iconology. Recommended.

Aug 21, 2012

Simply delightful.

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