- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Faber and Faber; New edition edition (20 Jan. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571212964
- ISBN-13: 978-0571212965
- Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 92,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Spies Paperback – 20 Jan 2003
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In Michael Frayn's novel Spies an old man returns to the scene of his seemingly ordinary suburban childhood. Stephen Wheatley is unsure of what he is seeking but, as he walks once-familiar streets he hasn't seen in 50 years, he unfolds a story of childish games colliding cruelly with adult realities. It is wartime and Stephen's friend Keith makes the momentous announcement that his mother is a German spy. The two boys begin to spy on the supposed spy, following her on her trips to the shops and to the post, and reading her diary. Keith's mother does have secrets to conceal but they are not the ones the boys suspect. Frayn skilfully manipulates his plot so that the reader's growing awareness of the truth remains just a few steps beyond Stephen's dawning realisation that he is trespassing on painful and dangerous territory. The only false notes occur in the final chapter when the central revelation (already cleverly signposted) is too swiftly followed by further disclosures about Stephen and his family that seem somehow unnecessary and make the denouement less satisfyingly conclusive. This is a much sparer and less expansive book than Headlong, Frayn's Booker Prize-shortlisted 1999 novel, more understated in its wit, but it is, in many ways, more compelling.--Nick Rennison --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
''Spies' is a cleverly conceived and intricately executed novel in which different layers of irony are nested like Russian dolls.' -- London Review of Books
''Spies' is too good for the Booker Prize - can there be higher praise?' -- Daily Express
'Beautifully accomplished, richly nostalgic novel about supposed Second World War espionage seen through the eyes of a young boy.' -- Sunday Times
'Frayn has never written more seductively and surely than in this book.' -- Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
'In a recent interview, Frayn, a former journalist, said it was very difficult to explain what a story is. 'Spies' is a near-perfect exemplar.' -- Glasgow Herald
'This is a deeply satisfying account of the everyday torments and confusions experienced by a not especially bright boy at a time of international madness. Frayn has written nothing better.' -- Independent
'This is a lovingly conceived, handsomely detailed novel . . . never less than witty, ingenious and a pleasure to read.' -- Guardian
Top Customer Reviews
I find Stephen an excellent protagonist - not the usual 'hero', but one who draws sympathy and through whom the adult world, with its cruelty and deceptiveness is revealed most convincingly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hugely enjoyable read...I thought about these characters and the story long after finishing the book. Already on my next novel by this author :)Published 4 months ago by sue
Very slow in the first 3 chapters. I originally started reading this and put it down after the first chapter as it was just uninspiring. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Abeliakid