Spies

A Novel

Michael Frayn

Metropolitan Books

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From the bestselling author of Headlong, a mesmerizing novel about secrecy, imagination, and a child's game turned deadly earnest

The sudden trace of a disturbing, forgotten aroma compels Stephen Wheatley to return to the site of a dimly remembered but troubling childhood summer in wartime London. As he pieces together his scattered images, we are brought back to a quiet, suburan street where two boys, Keith and his sidekick-Stephen-are engaged in their own version of the war effort: spying on the neighbors, recording their movements, ferreting out their secrets.

But when Keith utters six shocking words, the boys' game of espionage takes a sinister and unintended turn. A wife's simple errands and a family's ordinary rituals-once the focus of childish speculation-become the tragic elements of adult catastrophe.

In gripping prose, charged with emotional intensity, Spies reaches into the moral confusion of youth to reveal a reality filled with deceptions and betrayals, where the bonds of friendship, marriage, and family are unravelled by cowardice and erotic desire. Master illusionist Michael Frayn powerfully demonstrates, yet again, that what appears to be happening in front of our eyes often turns out to be something we can't see at all.

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Book Excerpts

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Spies
1The third week of June, and there it is again: the same almost embarrassingly familiar breath of sweetness that comes every year about this time. I catch it on the warm evening air as I walk past the well-ordered gardens in my quiet street, and for a moment I'm a child again and everything's before me--all the frightening, half-understood promise of life.It must come from one of the gardens. Which one? I can never trace it. And what is it? It's not like the heartbreaking tender sweetness of the lime blossom, for which this city's known, or the serene summer happiness of the honeysuckle.

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Reviews

Praise for Spies

From the bestselling author of Headlong, and “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

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About the Author

Michael Frayn

Michael Frayn is the author of nine 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 1999. He lives in London.

Michael Frayn

Eamonn McCabe
Michael Frayn

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Available Formats and Book Details

Spies
A Novel
Michael Frayn

Award

Whitbread Book Award - Winner

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
January 2003
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466822580
ISBN10: 1466822589
272 pages
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
January 2003
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312421175
ISBN10: 0312421176
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages
$16.00
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Metropolitan Books

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