Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Book Review - Headlong by Michael Frayn

I've just finished reading this very entertaining novel - shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize  - ok so I'm not reading this year's shortlist!

Anyway, Headlong is an interesting novel, funny almost farcical action contrasted with erudite and convincingly accurate looking research on the Dutch painter Breughel, his paintings and his times. I assume the research is factual, why make it up? The stories around Breughel were fascinating and kept me reading the book; he's one of my favourite painters and I originally picked up the book because of the Breughel scene on the cover.

The infuriating protagonist in the novel part of Frayn's book is a would-be art historian who believes he has found a previously unknown painting by Breughel which, if genuine, is worth millions, but it belongs to his ignorant and bombastic neighbour. He devises an increasingly convoluted scheme to get hold of the picture, but even his name, Martin Clay is soft and amorphous, you know the project is somehow doomed! The action proceeds at pell-mell pace towards tragedy - although nobody dies - except Icarus.

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