[]
[]

Headlong

A Novel
Frayn, Michael (Book - 1999 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Headlong
Print

Item Details

An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old Master. Invited to dinner by the boorish local landowner, Martin Clay, an easily distracted philosopher, and his art-historian wife are asked to assess three dusty paintings blocking the draught from the chimney. But hiding beneath the soot is nothing less-Martin believes-than a lost work by Bruegel. So begins a hilarious trail of lies and concealments, desperate schemes and soaring hopes as Martin, betting all that he owns and much that he doesn't, embarks on a quest to prove his hunch, win his wife over, and separate the painting from its owner. In Headlong, Michael Frayn, "the master of what is seriously funny" (Anthony Burgess), offers a procession of superbly realized characters, from the country squire gone to seed to his giddy, oversexed young wife. All are burdened by human muddle and human cravings; all are searching for a moral compass as they grapple with greed, folly, and desire. And at the heart of the clamor is Breugel's vision, its dark tones warning of the real risks of temptation and obsession. With this new novel, Michael Frayn has given us entertainment of the highest order. Supremely wise and wickedly funny, Headlong elevates Frayn into the front rank of contemporary novelists. Michael Fraynis a celebrated British playwright and is also the author of eight novels (includingHeadlongandSpies) and three screenplays. He lives in London. An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old Master. Invited to dinner by the boorish local landowner, Martin Clay, an easily distracted philosopher, and his art-historian wife are asked to assess three dusty paintings blocking the draught from the chimney. But hiding beneath the soot is nothing less--Martin believes--than a lost work by Bruegel. So begins a hilarious trail of lies and concealments, desperate schemes and soaring hopes as Martin, betting all that he owns and much that he doesn't, embarks on a quest to prove his hunch, win his wife over, and separate the painting from its owner. "Rueful and amusing . . . Frayn is that rare writer who succeeds as both a novelist and a dramatist."--Randy Cohen, The New York Times Book Review "Finely wrought and highly comical . . . a perfect introduction to a writer who likes to pull the rug out from under your feet while offering you the most seductive of smiles."--Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times "Exceedingly funny, both in event and in intellectual high jinx."--Katherine A.Powers,The Boston Sunday Globe "Part detective story, part art history lesson, part cautionary tale, and entirely funny."--The New Yorker "Frayn isn't stingy, even here, with the laughs, gleefully pricking holes in the overconfidence of academic art criticism. But just below the sugar powder you bite into his tough-minded essay on how history and individual human folly combine and conspire to manufacture art's 'message.'"--Judith Dunford,Los Angeles Times Book Review "Delightful . . . this novel, deadpan hilarious and wonderfully written, is as effective a work of historical reconstruction as it is a comedy."--David Walton,Philadelphia Inquirer "Headlongoffers an enthralling and refreshingly grown-up take on the alarming speed with which our morals shift to accommodate our desires, and on the lofty and low ways in which the great art of the past continues to affect us."--Elle
Authors: Frayn, Michael
Title: Headlong
a novel
Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, 1999
Edition: 1st American ed
Characteristics: 342 p. ;,25 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Michael Frayn
ISBN: 0805062858
Branch Call Number: FICTION FRAYN
Subject Headings: Country life England Fiction Art auctions England Fiction Lost works of art England Fiction Painting Flanders Fiction Art historians England Fiction Historians of philosophy England Fiction Bruegel, Pieter, approximately 1525-1569 Fiction
Genre/Form: Humorous fiction
Topical Term: Country life
Art auctions
Lost works of art
Painting
Art historians
Historians of philosophy
LCCN: 99020717
MARC Display»

Library Staff

An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity when he finds what he’s sure is a lost masterpiece by Bruegel. With a procession of superbly realized characters: all are burdened by human muddle and human cravings, and all are searching for a moral compass as they grapple with greed, folly, a... Read More »


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

Jul 17, 2013
  • gloryb rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Having some familiarity with Bruegal's paintings may keep your interest in this story as a good portion of it concerns the details found in his paintings and the sources of inspiration for these depictions. Surrounding those descriptions of course is the story of an art historian who thinks he has found one of Bruegal's lost paintings and tries to get a hold of it bankrupting himself in the meantime and threatening his happy family life. It's a story of obsession, interpretations of paintings, and finding "a good deal" for priceless art. Very enjoyable!

Sep 09, 2012
  • uncommonreader rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This story is set in the context of the comic misadventure of a would-be art historian and in the style of a detective novel. It is very good on the historic period and on Breugel's art. I particularly liked how Frayn "reads" a painting in terms of its icongraphy and iconology. Recommended.

Aug 21, 2012
  • barbros rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Simply delightful.

Very interesting about Bruegel and the history of The Netherlands. How wonderful it would be to look up the image of each painting mentioned as you go, not only the real Bruegels but also the several portraits of contemporary figures in history. I didn’t do that, but I did look at the Bruegels afterwards, and I will have a deeper appreciation for his work from now on.
I have to take issue with the reviewers who complained that the history and art history discussions brought the plot to a standstill. They seem to have Michael Frayn locked into his farceur (love that word!) mode, whereas I found those discussions the most compelling element of the book.
I could not put much stock, however, in the significance of the painter’s changing his own name from Bruegel to Brueghel and back again. After all, a generation later, William Shakespeare was spelling his own name several different ways, sometimes within one document.
And the idea of a long-lost Bruegel is not so far-fetched; after all, the Prado discovered one in 2010.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Videos

Add a Video

There are no videos for this title yet.

Find it at MCL

  Loading...

Powered by BiblioCommons.