Spies

A Novel

Michael Frayn

Picador

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The National Bestseller

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 memories, we are brought back to a quiet, suburban 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, and ferreting out their secrets. But when Keith utters six shocking words, the boy’s game of espionage takes a sinister and unintended turn, transforming a wife’s simple errands and the ordinary rituals of family life into the elements of adult catastrophe.

Childhood and innocence, secrecy, lies and repressed violence are all gently laid bare as once again Michael Frayn powerfully demonstrates that what appears to be happening in front of our eyes often turns out to be something we cannot 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

". . . 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

"In this very English novel, secrets assume an unexpected power and excitement as Frayn reveals that a little of the fascist is buried in every clever child, and that spying can be a soul-destroying game." --Chicago Sun-Times

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About the Author

Michael Frayn

Michael Frayn is the author of ten 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 l999. 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

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

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
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Picador

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