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Synopses & Reviews
From a writer acclaimed by everyone from Graham Greene to John Fowles to John Irving, a new novel, short-listed for the Booker Prize, which The Sunday Times of London calls "both funny and serious, a double-act that English novels rarely manage . . . A commanding imaginative achievement."
Picture an England where all the pubs are quaint, the Royals behave themselves (more or less), and the cliffs of Dover actually are white. Now imagine that the principal national treasures--from Stonehenge to Buckingham Palace--are grouped together on the Isle of Wight.
This is precisely the vision that Sir Jack Pitman seeks to realize: a "destination" where tourists can find replicas of Big Ben, Wembley Stadium, the National Gallery, Princess Di's grave, and even Harrods (conveniently located inside the Tower of London), and visit them all in the course of a weekend. As this land of make-believe takes on its own comic and horrible reality, Barnes delights us with a novel that is at once a philosophical inquiry, a burst of mischief, a hilarious romp, and a moving elegy about authenticity and nationality.
Julian Barnes, according to The Sunday Times, "has written nothing more poignant and enticing."
"If Julian Barnes' 1996 collection of artfully crafted short stories, Cross Channel, put him in the running as Nabokov's heir apparent, this latest novel celebrates his ascendancy. Readers familiar with Barnes know what a delight it is to read his work, not just for the handsome innovation of the tale, but for the sheer lyricism and intelligence of the page. In this futuristic tale— part postulate, part pasquinade—Queen Elizabeth is dead, the Royals are sliding into bankruptcy, and the tycoon Sir Jack Pitman has constructed an island of British history and tourism that rivals Jurassic Park for its sense of plastic verisimilitude. Reaching the conclusion of this novel, one will be hard pressed to decide whether the aesthetic splendor of Nabokov has been resurrected or decidedly overthrown." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
Born in Leicester in 1946, Julian Barnes is the author of eight novels, a book of stories, and a collection of essays. He has won both the Prix Medicis and the Prix Femina, and in 1988 was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in London.
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