Editorial Reviews. hypmarevlimist.gq Review. In Michael Frayn's novel Spies an old man returns to site Store · site eBooks · Literature & Fiction. MICHAEL FRAYN Secret Service and a mother who's a German spy – when the rest German spy to investigate, I should much rather it had turned out. medium. Open eBook Preview · Store; Spies. Spies (eBook). by Michael Frayn (Author). 68, Words; Pages. From the bestselling author.
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In the quiet cul-de-sac where Keith and Stephen live the only immediate signs of the Second World War are the blackout at night and a single. Childhood and innocence, secrecy, lies and repressed violence are all gently laid bare as once again Michael Frayn powerfully demonstrates. In the quiet cul-de-sac where Keith and Stephen live the only immediate signs of the Second World War are the blackout at night and a single random bombsite.
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The Siege. Helen Dunmore. In a way, that is also how political propaganda and ideologies work - there's the backdrop of WW II, after all. While told by a much-older Stephen looking back on his past, the protagonist is still conveying the story from the point of view of his younger self — the reader almost always remains ahead of young Stephen, as from the point of view of a grown-up outside of the game, what is happening will be judged very differently.
These two levels work nicely and add to the suspense, because the question how Stephen and Keith will interpret a situation always lingers.
All in all, the true mystery to me is how come this book was not shortlisted for the Booker but you shortlisted Unless? Jan 15, Danielle rated it did not like it. If I hadn't had to read this book for English I never would have finished it.
The concept for the book was interesting, the actual story however was really slow and I just couldn't get into it. In the last chapter it was like the writer suddenly decided that he needed to add in some thing to shock the audience, however it was delivered in such away that there was no real shock value to it.
View all 3 comments. May 06, Preeta rated it really liked it Recommends it for: People who like novels in which children do Very Bad Things. I can't decide whether to give this book four stars or five.
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The language was a lot more straightforward than the dense, breathless wordplay I usually love, but the further I got into the book the more I came to see this as another mark of Frayn's genius, because the language picks up and becomes more urgent and complex as the plot does.
The plot is brilliant; no question about it. I couldn't put this book down, and those of you who know my distractible self will know that this says a LOT. I put I can't decide whether to give this book four stars or five. I'm sure part of my total absorption owes itself to the fact that this book handles some of my favourite themes: The narrator and a friend he is desperate to impress begin what seems at first like another rollicking adventure of the kind they've always played: Along the way, as you might well suspect, their game turns horrible and terrifying.
Perhaps the most terrifying discovery the narrator makes, and that we achingly remake with him, is the vulnerability of adults. Could the world of adults possibly be even more lonely than that of children? The narrative is as brilliantly plotted as the best of murder mysteries, and nothing prepared me for the shock of revelation at the end. As with the best murder mysteries, I looked back and saw that it should all have been obvious; that copious clues had been planted for my benefit, but I'd been so swept up in fear and dread that I hadn't picked up on them.
View 1 comment. Apr 22, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing. And then one night it happens. In your head, in your stomach.
Spies is a very powerful and extraordinary coming-of-age novel. View 2 comments. Aug 24, Kelly rated it it was amazing Shelves: Spies is one of my favourites. Admittedly, I only read it because it was part of my English Literature A level studies, and most of my class would disagree with me in my affections for this book since it was definitely a challenge to analyse!
However, I found that this only deepened my affections and admiration for Frayn's masterpiece. There are so many levels to Spies. It is complex, as Frayn chooses to narrate this story almost as a stream of consciousness, where events are disjointed and half Spies is one of my favourites. It is complex, as Frayn chooses to narrate this story almost as a stream of consciousness, where events are disjointed and half remembered, then returned to later and expanded upon.
It follows his train of thought, rather than a chronological sequence of events. This can make it difficult to read at times, however it captures the essence of a person revisiting old memories.
It mimics how our thoughts and memories work - each triggered by stimuli, such as a scent, a place, a feeling, and how they do not always follow a logical direction but may in turn, trigger other memories which may be linked in some way.
Frayn captures this exceptionally well. Spies is a fitting title for the book, as it is a major theme throughout the novel where everyone appears to be spying on everyone else. It is a touching and charming story, told through the perspective of an older man who revisits the neighborhood he grew up in, recalling his childhood memories.
One of my favorite quotations is: An enchanting read, despite its complexities, and a must for all readers. This is a book I wouldn't mind reading again and again. And each time I have, it is easier to piece together the events and different things take on a different importance. This story has so many hidden complexities, it is a joy to read over and over to gain a deeper understanding of the characters, the events and Frayn's unusual written style.
As the novel opens, the narrator, Stephen, returns in his old age to the neighborhood where he grew up during WWII England. Wandering around the old streets, certain sights, sounds and smells especially the sweet smell of the flowers on the privet hedge conjure up Stephen the boy, and what happened to him many years ago during his childhood.
While the memories are slowly unfurled, Stephen the man often adds in his own questions about what Stephen the boy could and should have understood or no As the novel opens, the narrator, Stephen, returns in his old age to the neighborhood where he grew up during WWII England. While the memories are slowly unfurled, Stephen the man often adds in his own questions about what Stephen the boy could and should have understood or not about what was happening at the time.
What Stephen the man looks back on is a certain episode of his youth, when his friend Keith Hayward made the announcement that his mother was a German spy. He based his claim on observations he made about his mother's movements around the neighborhood. His bright idea was to set up surveillance so that he and Stephen could come up with proof of this allegation, and Stephen, who wanted so desperately to fit into Keith's world, went along with the plan.
Yet, so many times what children see and think is actually a misinterpretation of what's really going on in the often-incomprehensible world of adults, and Keith and Stephen start down a path which leads to some tragic consequences. This book has been criticized by some readers for being too slow, but don't believe it. The author spends a lot of time placing the reader into Stephen the boy's neighborhood, complete with smells and other memory triggers, and this basis of place and time is very important.
What really makes this book, though, are the characters. There's Stephen, of course, who is of "inferior" class to his friend Keith. Stephen understands that to remain Keith's friend, there are certain unwritten and unspoken rules that he has to follow. Keith is an odd boy, a bullying type who lives with his unemotional, stiff upper-lip, everything-in-its-place kind of father and a mother who is outwardly very charming but whose inner life is a question mark.
Spies is not a passive read, meaning that a great deal of reader involvement is necessary, but when you've finished it, you'll want to read it again. Oct 10, Jacqueline Masumian rated it it was amazing.
Michael Frayn has crafted a remarkable story of WWII intrigue told through the eyes of a young boy living in a tight family neighborhood in London.
The plot then takes many twists and turns as Stephen becomes embroiled in an intrigue he never anticipated, all the while having little knowledge of what is actually going on.
The character of Stephen, small, shy and tongue-tied, is beautifully written, as he gets involved in a childish game and then makes a tortuous transition into manhood. The prose is full of powerful sensory images and a load of atmosphere. The book starts and ends with Stephen as an old man; he has entered that murky territory know as memory and, looking back, tries to come to terms with how things played out in his childhood.
There are mystery and suspense in this book and more than a few stunning plot twists. That Frayn is also the author of the play Noises Off , one of the funniest British comedies of all time, amazes me. I highly recommend The Spies for those who enjoy literary WWII novels with brilliant characters, mystery and suspense.
Mar 08, Fiona rated it it was amazing Shelves: I loved this book. It reminded me of the time in my life when I still craved an imaginary world but knew that I knew better. Stephen is a vulnerable boy, lacking in self confidence, easily led by anyone who befriends him. His fantasy world with Keith leads to the uncovering of a secret that has devastating consequences. Frayn tells us a poignant story, drawing us into Stephen's troubled world and through his childish perspective into the adjacent adult world.
It's a story that will stay with me I loved this book. It's a story that will stay with me for quite some time. I'm also very excited to have discovered another author to read my way through.
Jun 24, Maciek rated it it was amazing Shelves: I can't say much more beacuse I'm at a loss for words - and it's all Michael Frayn's fault. The guy is brilliant - and so is the book. Sep 25, Ruby rated it it was ok Shelves: Well, it's finally over. That slow, monotonous pace expressed by my a-level English class is now only to be repeated on the other side of the course with 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.
I probably think more critically of this book as a result of the teacher who made us read this book with her, and consequently discovering a to-be-tested drinking game every time she says, 'now I find this part really chilling!
Rant over and explanation of my initial negative colouring of this novel, I found the story interesting, if not what I would normally read. The style of writing is by no means conventional, as is especially expressed within the last chapter which almost gives spoilers of who Stephen was and who he became, leaving more questions than answers. For that, I did quite enjoy the book - as did my three highlighters spent on covering the novel.
An interesting point of the novel was the presentation of the characters and then how Stephen perceived them after the reader had already come to their own conclusions.
For instance, the reader develops a distinct dislike for the men of the Hayward men right from the start, but it takes Stephen really up until the bayonet incident to truly recognise how better off he is without having them as a blood relation. So, if you are considering reading this, give it a go!
Sep 12, Laurel Zuckerman rated it it was amazing. This lovely, thoughtful book is like a dip in cool, clear water. It revolves around a mystery which the narrator, now an old man, is trying to solve.
What did he really know as a boy? Who was leader, who follower? How could he not see? When did everything suddenly change? Little by little they uncover a terrible secret. In the haze of things not said, they are unable or unwilling to understand its implications, leading to the tragedy that the old man now, slowly, methodically and obsessively, tries to grasp. A thoughtful look at bravery and cowardice, memory and knowledge, guilt and innocence.
And the difficulty of being a boy in wartime Britain. Beautifully written. Mar 01, Adam Crossley rated it it was amazing. Little boys are inherently curious; I know I was.
I had a secret fort in the bushes across the street from my house where my brother and I made plans and spied on neighbors. This book brought me back to those days. However, these two boys uncover a genuine mystery that moves the plot forward in leaps and bounds. The story overflows with suspenseful moments and the protagonists draws the reader in with his way of narrating his self defeating thoughts as he faces and crumbles in increasing tense mo Little boys are inherently curious; I know I was.
The story overflows with suspenseful moments and the protagonists draws the reader in with his way of narrating his self defeating thoughts as he faces and crumbles in increasing tense moments.
This story is rich with symbolism and has nifty ending that ties it all together. It was engaging from the beginning to the end. It definitely passed the test and I'm excited to analyze it in more depth with my students in the coming year.
View all 4 comments. May 25, Olivia rated it did not like it. Dec 10, Hilary G rated it liked it. Ex Bookworm group review: How long before there is a book that is like the Go Between, Atonement and Spies?
The theme of Spies is the gulf between the child's world and the adult world. The child lacks the experie Ex Bookworm group review: The child lacks the experience to logically interpret adult behaviour to guess what is really going on or to judge the implications of his interaction with adults.
It's not a complete lack of understanding. I think it's like being with a group of people who speak a different language from you. You don't understand the words but you can work some things out. Sometimes you will totally misunderstand, sometimes you'll be half right and occasionally you'll be spot on. Stephen completely missed the fact that his family were just as interesting as Keith's.
Without knowing anything about "class" or social status, he grasped the fact that Keith was somehow "better" than him from other people's behaviour including Keith's. Then there are moments when true understanding dawns — learning. This one struck me: An extraordinary thought. Stephen tries to access his childhood but I think ultimately fails.
He talks about Stephen in the third person as if, unlike Keith's mother and Auntie Dee, whose relationship to each other is the same through time, young Stephen and old Stephen are two different people. The tarmac can't be rolled back to reveal the privet again. This book could have been called A la recherche du temps perdu if that title hadn't already been taken, I thought it very obvious, very early who was being helped on the other side of the tunnel, though there might have been some slight suspense about why it was Keith's mother were we told her name?
I don't remember doing the helping, though I suspect that was obvious too. But it didn't really matter. The strength of the book was in all the undertones and little details — what really went on behind the privet. Keith's father, for example, was a chilling character that I disliked intensely from his first appearance and although I suppose he was a tragic character of sorts, I didn't have an ounce of sympathy for him. Not so, Keith.
Keith had all the signs of turning out a bully just like his father, but I did have some sympathy for him, though I didn't think Frayn showed him much. I'm really not sure what I thought about the end of Spies. I didn't see the point of Frayn's rushed revelation about Stephen's own parents at the end of the story.
He obviously intended it to add something, but I thought it made very little difference to the story and if I were the editor I would cut it. I enjoyed Spies, it was a well written, intelligent book, but I must admit to some bafflement about how it ended up being "Whitbread Novel of the Year ". I thought it was good, but not that good. I reckon though, it is a dead cert for future set texts by exam boards.
Jun 11, Caroline rated it liked it. There is something a little overly intimate about the way this book is narrated. It's not vulgar or anything like that, it's just that you get waste a lot time having to assuage the narrator's fears about the unreliability of his own memory. It's not that every book has to be written by an omniscient narrator, but here the guy keeps picking at the blurry lines of his memory like a scab until you want to shake his shoulders and say "why are you wasting my time with this then, if you're so sure th There is something a little overly intimate about the way this book is narrated.I left the book behind on my travels.
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I only came across this book because I taught an extract of it at school. To put it bluntly, this book is an uninspired mess. Ian Hamilton. Emma Webb rated it did not like it Sep 11, If I had to read a book about war through the eyes of children, I would perhaps pick another book. You've successfully reported this review. The Trinity Six. Alexander pushkin life summary essay ; mergers and acquisitions dissertation pdf
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