Spies Paperback – 5 May 2011
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
''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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
But Frayn also presents an adult story, imperceptibly humming in the background almost at the start, then thrumming more and more audibly as he brings it to the fore. When finally it declares itself openly, fortissimo and on centre-stage, one realizes that it has (and how it has) been at the centre of the story from the outset, though always - even at the climax - we get it through the consciousness of the boy.
The presentation of the adult story is an astonishing technical feat. Frayn shows superlative skill in the way he paces it - not just the rate at which the story comes forward, but the steps it takes to get there: the thriller-like excitement as it is gradually revealed, the discipline with which the revelation comes entirely through the experience of the boy Stephen, with nothing leaking around the edges, the growing revelation (starting long before we know what the story really is) of its sadness. It is an astonishing achievement.
The central adult story is heart-breaking. One is also sad for others, including the boy Keith and his poor limited frightened frightening father.
Frayn is never sentimental.Read more ›
This is harsh, the writing was OK in a sort of churn it out sort of way. It just gets on my nerves when people rave about such mediocre stuff when theres so much better around. People don't have to write just for the sake of filling up shelf space do they? Now I feel guilty and hate myself for saying all these nasty things.
This novel gets better with each reading. It is full of symbolism, metaphor and bitter irony. The first-person narration is a clever device because he’s an unreliable narrator, being the voice of the child version of the now elderly central character, raking through his memory and childish perceptions of a significant summer in his childhood, memory triggered by a particular scent. The child’s inexperience makes him unable to fully comprehend either what’s really going on or his own role in the unfolding tragedy. The grown-up reader is left to fill in the blanks, not always easily, and revise sensitive young Stephen’s assumptions and conclusions as he struggles to make sense of what is beyond his emotional maturity. We ache for the child’s confusion, naiveté and developing guilt, as well as for the pain in the lives of Stephen’s friend and his family.
A beautiful, poignant coming of age story – not unlike (as other reviewers have observed) 'Whistle Down the Wind' and 'Atonement'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had to read this for english, although at the time I wasn't a massive fan, it is a very well written and clever bookPublished 1 month ago by Ooooooh
Didn't see the twist coming - also took me back to my childhood games - wonderfulPublished 3 months ago by Irene Chenery
Michael Frayn may be a clever guy, but this isn't writing at all. leaden sentence after leaden sentence. Nowhere near as good as Headlong.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a very slow book with little merit. I finished it because I had to read it for my course. Reading this book is a waste of your time.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I enjoyed this book and would like to read more of this authors reads at a later date.Published 3 months ago by Boudicca
I fully expected Spies to be rated on average at around 4.5. It is as complete a novel as I have read, all the threads joining up in a plausible and impressive ending. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ashencrump
I found the author's insight into the thoughts and behaviour of young boys fascinating and very well done. And the twist at the end was unexpected. A good read.Published 4 months ago by MB