29 Jan 2013

"Skios" by Michael Frayn

Looking for the perfect read for a holiday or a relaxing Sunday? One that will make you laugh with intelligent twists? Look no further than "Skios" by Michael Frayn... 

Skios a is a little paradise on earth, a warm, sunny Greek island in the middle of a glittering, blue sea, is the setting for an annual event where glamour meets science, the Fred Toppler Foundation's annual House Party. Nikki Hook, PA to Mrs. Fred Toppler, the dancer formerly known as Bahama LeStarr, is in charge of making the House Party a roaring success and she is damned if anything is going to spoil this opportunity to secure a promotion. Lightly tanned with discreetly blonde highlights, she is the embodiment of efficiency, when she's waiting in the airport to pick up the guest of honour Dr. Wilfred Norman. Unfortunately, the good-looking, charming man introducing himself as Dr. Wilfred Norman is not actually the distinguished doctor but instead professional charmer and chancher per excellence, Oliver Fox.

Oliver Fox is a ladies man with a penchant for making up identities. In certain London circles (among socialites and hedge fund wives), he is notorious. He party trick seems to revolve around picking up needy women and then sponging off them for as long as possible. This particular weekend, he has come to Skios for a hot weekend with a woman whose rich financier fiancee is away on a weekend trip but when he spots the dishy Nikki in the airport, he suddenly decides to try out the identity as Dr. Wilfred Norman.

Enough to say that hilarity ensues with Oliver Fox playing the important academic dignitary and explaining away to fellow scientists as only a true conman can and Dr. Norman enjoying the dubious honour of being trapped in a secluded villa with a beautiful woman who seems to think that he is a rapist.

"Skios" by Michael Frayn was longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize and for a reason. It combines hilarious with elegantly written in a way that very few authors can while creating characters that engage  the reader and come to life. Many authors who master the comedic genre rely largely on the plot to carry them but in "Skios", the characters are what drive the story and bring forward the laughs. This is holiday reading for the intelligent reader who wants a little more and I can recommend it as the  most perfect entertainment for an afternoon on the beach or in the garden. 


  1. I would certainly like to read a book which would combine the hilarious with elegantly written.

  2. Then go for this one - it's a real gem!!