Disclaimer: This book was given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis (from Amazon)
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…
Michael Frayn is probably best known for his novel Spies although he has written lots of different novels, plays, articles and non-fiction books too. Spies is one of those books I have known about and been interested in for a long time but somehow never gotten around to actually reading. Part of the reason I accepted the request to read Skios was because I thought it being a review book would make me read it rather than just putting it on my to be read pile, and if I liked it I might actually get around to reading Spies.
I suppose Frayn’s reputation made me expect quite a lot from this book, maybe to much. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it exactly but I didn’t think it was some amazing piece of work either. For quite a while I found it just a bit absurd. There were just to many confusions and to many coincidences. Once I just accepted that it was going to be a bit absurd however I did start to enjoy it quite a lot more. I still found that characters and the situation a little stupid but I was more able to see the humour in it all, and it certainly made me start to laugh. In fact I think that’s why it was so absurd, not so much to make a story but to make a bit of entertainment, you just hjad to laugh at how absurd it was or you would be despairing! By the end it actually got so absurd I even got the sense that Frayn was just taking the Micky out of himself- or maybe even out of novels in general- I mean it’s all made up really isn’t it? Or maybe I just wanted there to be something behind the absurdity!
Certainly I would say it’s enjoyable if you’re not going to take it to seriously, if you want to read a serious novel though go for something else because you really won’t like this one!