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Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

'Good God, thought Oliver, as he saw the smile. She thinks I'm him! And all at once he knew it was so. He was Dr Norman Wilfred.'

On the sunlit Greek island of Skios, the Fred Toppler Foundation's annual lecture is to be given by Dr Norman Wilfred, the world-famous authority on the scientific organisation of science. He turns out to be surprisingly young and charming - not at all the intimidating figure they had been expecting. The Foundation's guests are soon eating out of his hand. So, even sooner, is Nikki, the attractive and efficient organiser.

Meanwhile, in a remote villa at the other end of the island, Nikki's old school-friend Georgie waits for the notorious chancer she has rashly agreed to go on holiday with, and who has only too characteristically failed to turn up. Trapped in the villa with her, by an unfortunate chain of misadventure, is a balding old gent called Dr Norman Wilfred, who has lost his whereabouts, his luggage, his temper and increasingly all normal sense of reality - everything he possesses apart from the flyblown text of a well-travelled lecture on the scientific organisation of science...

And as the time draws ever nearer for one or other Dr Wilfred - or possibly both - to give the eagerly awaited lecture, so Skios - Greece - Europe - career off their appointed track.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Skios is a story of mislaid identity, misdirected passion and miscalculated consequences. Michael Frayn is also the celebrated author of fifteen plays including Noises Off, Copenhagen and Afterlife. His other bestselling novels include Headlong, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and Spies, which won the Whitbread Best Novel Award.

From Publishers Weekly

02 April 2012 – Frayn s latest (after Afterlife) is a wacky case of mistaken identity set on the luxurious Greek island of Skios. Nikki Hook is arranging the Fred Toppler Foundation s annual gala, a celebration of culture attended by academic heavyweights and international dignitaries. But when she goes to the airport to pick up the keynote lecturer, Dr. Norman Wilfred, an eminent theorist and pedantic bore, she instead collects Oliver Fox. Oliver, a playboy who has come to Skios to seduce the beautiful Georgie, decides on a whim, when Georgie s flight is delayed, to usurp Dr. Wilfred s identity. Meanwhile, through a series of absurd misunderstandings, the real Dr. Wilfred is whisked away to Oliver s borrowed villa where lonely Georgie waits. Nikki soon becomes enamored with the duplicitous lothario she believes to be Dr. Wilfred, while Dr. Wilfred falls for Georgie. The novel is a lacerating satire, with characters propelled by equal parts accident and self-interest in a world in which academic and political luminaries are as vapid as the fraud they fawn over. While entertaining, the absence of sympathetic characters keeps the stakes low and the dramatic tension weak.

Customer Reviews

.....but where are your trousers vicar?

Can a stage farce work as a novel? No - not judging by this disaster. Putting books like this in the Booker long list reinforces the ides that only middle aged, middle class people from middle England are interested in modern literature. What has this book got to do with anything that has happened for the last 50 years? Dated, patronising and shallow.

Chaos in Skios

A wonderful farce. Exhausting to read as it is unputdownable. Thoroughly enjoyed every character and every ridiculous moment. The perfect holiday book. Read it on a convalescent health cure and felt loads better after the two days it took me to read. Still laughing now just thinking about it.

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  • £7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: 01 May 2012
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings