The Trick of It by Michael Frayn - review by Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks

Is He Authentic

The Trick of It


Viking 176pp £11.95 order from our bookshop

Michael Frayn’s new novel, his first for 16 years, asks some almost unaskable questions. Anyone who reads Donne’s Songs and Sonnets will recognise the authentic smell of warm, used linen; but who has stopped to consider what it would really have been like to spend a night with the poet? Poetry – and even fiction – is a direct way of coming to know a writer in the abstract. One of the questions Frayn poses is this: what would it be like to ‘know’ an admired author in a carnal and social way; how would it feel to make a Metaphysical, to grope a Great?

Richard, the protagonist of the book, is a lecturer in English at a provincial university. His special subject is an esteemed woman novelist known to him, through years of notes and lecturing, as JL. When she comes to give a talk to his students, Richard is diffident with her and

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter