Going to bed with an author on your reading list

Stephen Wall

  • The Trick of It by Michael Frayn
    Viking, 172 pp, £11.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 670 82985 4
  • The Long Lost Journey by Jennifer Potter
    Bloomsbury, 179 pp, £12.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 7475 0463 6
  • Falling by Colin Thubron
    Heinemann, 152 pp, £10.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 434 77978 4
  • Coming to Light by Elspeth Davie
    Hamish Hamilton, 191 pp, £12.95, August 1989, ISBN 0 241 12861 7
  • A Careless Widow by V.S. Pritchett
    Chatto, 176 pp, £12.95, September 1989, ISBN 0 7011 3438 0

Michael Frayn hasn’t published a novel for 16 years, but it’s immediately clear from his new one that he hasn’t lost the trick of it. After so long a lay-off some self-consciousness might have been expected, but Frayn has turned this potential liability to advantage by making it an essential part of his subject. The Trick of It is, among other things, an essay on itself, but the reflexive element is saved from a merely formal aridity by its comic brio and its uneasy respect for human mysteriousness.

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