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Skios: A Novel Hardcover – June 19, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews


"Immensely entertaining...Michael Frayn is a master of that most frantic of genres: the door-slamming, coincidence-splattered, slapstick-studded genre of farce."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times" "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" "Are you, perhaps even now, searching for the perfect comic novel for the beach, the hammock or some lazy summer weekend? Say 'yes' to any of these questions and you should immediately head for your bookstore to buy a copy of Frayn's new book, "Skios," a romantic comedy constructed with the quick cutting and pace of a Marx Brothers movie... This is one of the most amusingly complicated novels since David Lodge's "Small World." By page 2, readers will know without any doubt that they are in for a wonderful time."--Michael Dirda, "The Washington Post" "A paragon of academic satire, this novel is also a shining example of the drama of mistaken identities... Like much of Frayn's work, "Skios" is a virtuoso performance, and very funny, but underneath it all is a melancholy truth: many people are unhappy with who they are and wouldn't mind being mistaken for someone else."--"The New Yorker" "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 ho --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
From the Renaissance on, the theme of history has been expansion: the Age of Exploration carrying adventurers and map-makers to every corner of the globe; the Reformation replacing a monolithic church with religious diversity; philosophy yielding to ideology; capitalism finding the price of everything while liberating us from obligation to its value. This expansion seemed on course to go on forever, like the post-Big Bang universe. But lately, one thing has begun to shrink. That would be us. Now every day brings news of scientific breakthroughs that diminish nature's only witness. Our senses don't reliably inform us, nor do we wait on them as we thought we did for the wherewithal to make choices. How could we ever really know each other, when we don't know ourselves?

Michael Frayn is the poet laureate of this collapse. Or perhaps its `clown prince.' A number of literary authors have taken on themes like the mind's preference for a good story instead of reason, and how those stories are undermined by narrative unreliability. But no one else handles the impact of technology on the scaffolding of knowledge and the human desire for certainly with Frayn's scathing humor. Most of us like to laugh; all of us need to. Some prefer to laugh at things falling about, while others require the witty insight that eviscerates appearances. Frayne offers it all in generous helpings.

Those who enjoy stage farce--mistaken doors and misplaced assignations--may remember Frayn from `Noises Off,' the best-known of his fifteen stage plays and the masterpiece and template of these juggling acts, in which any number of characters, plots, and subplots are kept suspended in chaotic misadventures.
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