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Skios: A Novel Hardcover – June 19, 2012

122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Expertly written, genuine fun... Frayn builds his puzzle so painstakingly and tells his story so engagingly, you want to jump in his lap and build a nest. (Alex Witchel, The New York Times Book Review)

Masterly crafted farce...Under Frayn's peerless choreography, the comedy gods of mistaken identity are having a mad romp. Frayn is so devilishly good at clicking the pieces into place that watching him build his contraption is its own entertainment. (Entertainment Weekly)

Fiendishly funny... Frayn creates a convincing world so endearingly vulnerable to this kind of mayhem that farce seems inevitable, yet you wind up rooting for the irredeemably irresponsible protagonist to get away with it. (North Coast Journal)

A witty Rube Goldberg construction of a novel... Think Being There set to the staccato pacing of Noises Off, and hold on to your funny bones. (Library Journal)

Truly does make you laugh out loud. I sniggered on the train and the bus; I sniggered in the kitchen, the bedroom and, on one occasion, in the shower. I wasn't reading the book in the shower, obviously. But I was thinking about it, and that was enough--Skios really is hilarious. (The Observer (UK))

In the hands of someone less accomplished, the events in Skios would be too improbable... As it is, you can sit back and let the book lap over you like the warm waters surrounding this Greek isle. (The Spectator (UK))

The pieces of this intricate farce click into place with all the assurance you'd expect from the author of Noises Off... The denouement is pitch-perfect. Guaranteed to make many an appearance on holiday-reading lists this summer. (Daily Mail (UK))

Awkward sexual encounters, mistaken identities and buffoonish caricatures of powerful men and women litter the plot of this engaging, even bawdy comedy... Skios sparkles with a precise, theatrical timing. (The List (UK))

A cracking read. At the almost-close of proceedings, Frayn lifts the curtain to map out what might have happened--revealing the authorial hand guiding the action. It's a deft and clever touch... If you've always regarded farce as something you don't have to dally with, Skios could well the book to change your mind. (Bookmunch (UK))

About the Author

Michael Frayn is the author of ten novels, including the bestselling Headlong, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice selection and a Booker Prize finalist, and Spies, which received the Whitbread Fiction Award. He has also written a memoir, My Father's Fortune, and fifteen plays, among them Noises Off and Copenhagen, which won three Tony Awards. He lives just south of London.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805095497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805095494
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,058,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Michael Frayn was born in London in 1933 and began his career as a journalist on the Guardian and the Observer. His novels include Towards the End of the Morning, The Trick of It and Landing on the Sun. Headlong (1999) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while his most recent novel, Spies (2002), won the Whitbread Novel Award. His fifteen plays range from Noises Off to Copenhagen and most recently Afterlife.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By K. Polzin on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed Michael Frayn's play "Noises Off," so I picked up "Skios" to take on a four-day beach vacation, and it was the perfect read - diverting, amusing, yet intelligent and well-written.

The coincidences come fast and heavy in "Skios," and I marveled that Frayn could hold it all together. Whenever I thought it couldn't go on anymore, the story would take another turn and build some more. I enjoyed how cleverly Frayn kept this juggling act going.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Dr. Norman Wilfred (the real one), the lecturer who has his identity stolen at the beginning of the story. Frayn portrays him vividly, and he undergoes an interesting transformation as a result of having his life upset. I also enjoyed the logic of the book: one character sets off all the mayhem of the book, and in the end...(I won't spoil it).

You will probably not have many deep thoughts while reading "Skios," but you will be thoroughly entertained.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By H. P. on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Skios is only a middling farce. Thankfully, it is also a first-rate satire.

Nikki, a PR professional at foundation that appears to exist mainly as an excuse to give the wealthy a reason to take out their yachts, has invited Dr. Norman Wilfred, leading academic expert on the scientific management of science to speak at the foundation's annual gala event. But when Nikki mistakenly picks up an reluctant grifter at the airport instead of Dr. Wilfred, (mild) hilarity ensues.

As a farce, it's pretty standard stuff. The beginning and the end suffer for having to concentrate on the standard farcical elements. An attempt to put a twist on the usual farcical conclusion falls rather flat.

But the middle, on the other hand, is pure Grecian gold. It soars because it lets the farce amble on while slinging subtle satirical barbs about. Delightfully, it primarily aims at three groups with which I have intimate knowledge--public relations professionals, intellectuals, and pseudo-intellectuals. Each is successfully skewered. Frayn obviously knows his stuff.

Disclosure--I won an ARC of Skios through First Reads.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Angie Boyter VINE VOICE on May 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Frayn has one of the widest repertoires of any writer I can think of--- from the intense, suspenseful Spies , which won the Whitbread Award ,to the Tony-winning science dialogue of Copenhagen, to the philosophical The Human Touch, to the wise and wicked Booker Prize finalist Headlong. I can easily see how someone might be a huge fan of Frayn in one of his guises but not enjoy his next book at all. I have long admired Frayn's clever, quintessentially British writing style, but I have a very critical eye and a low tolerance for the implausible, and so I approached Skios with some trepidation.
Nikki Hook is the ambitious PA to the head of the Fred Toppler Foundation, and this year's Foundation Great European House Party on the Greek island of Skios could be her stepping stone to the job of Foundation Director. She is excited as she greets Dr. Norman Wilfred, the keynote speaker for the House Party, at the airport, but is both puzzled and pleased that he looks much younger and more attractive than pictures she has seen. Dr. Norman Wilfred is impressed by the luxury of the villa in which he is accommodated on Skios but becomes increasingly confused when he cannot find anyone else or any occupied buildings nearby. Georgie is nervous but tingling with anticipation at the prospect of stepping out on her regular boyfriend to spend a week-end on a Greek isle with a man she has just met, until she arrives to find the villa already occupied by a middle-aged man who has lost his luggage and seems to think SHE is the intruder. Oliver Fox is a likeable ne'er-do-well who quickly realizes that Nikki has mistaken him for someone else, but she is attractive, so why not go with the flow and see what develops?
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Cady VINE VOICE on May 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Michael Frayn has written what I consider to be three perfect examples of their individual genres: "Noises Off," the single funniest theatrical farce I have ever seen in my life; "Copenhagen," a play that brilliantly engages both the heart and intellect; and "Headlong," a Booker Prize-nominated satirical novel that had me laughing out loud when I wasn't running to the internet to research its subject matter. When "Skios," Frayn's new novel was offered by the Vine Program, I jumped at the opportunity to read and review it. I wish I could say I was more pleased with the result.

It's obvious that in "Skios" -- which has been generously short-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize -- Frayn isn't trying to engage our intellects as he has in the past; he's just having a good time and inviting us to come along for the ride. But a farce can't work if there are holes in its set-up, and this is where this lighter-than-light bubble of a book never got off the ground for me. It's hard to believe in this day and age that a lecturer would be hired for an engagement without anyone having the slightest idea what he looks like. His face would be plastered all over the internet, which would make the mix-up that sets the novel's antics in motion a virtual impossibility. And it's hard to fathom that this lecturer would fly to a foreign country with no idea where he's going once he gets there; would he not have an e-mail with the address written anywhere? Could he not do a search for the foundation on his phone? Find someone who speaks English? And hasn't anyone ever heard of land lines? Cell phones in this book are constantly losing service (at the most opportune moments), but no-one thinks to look for a land line.

Beyond these improbabilities, the satire simply isn't funny enough.
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