Skios: A Novel

Skios: A Novel

by Michael Frayn
3.1 10

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Skios: A Novel by Michael Frayn

The great master of farce turns to an exclusive island retreat for a comedy of mislaid identities, unruly passions, and demented, delicious disorder

On the private Greek island of Skios, the high-paying guests of a world-renowned foundation prepare for the annual keynote address, to be given this year by Dr. Norman Wilfred, an eminent authority on the scientific organization of science. He turns out to be surprisingly youthful, handsome, and charming—quite unlike his reputation as dry and intimidating. Everyone is soon eating out of his hands. So, even sooner, is Nikki, the foundation's attractive and efficient organizer.

Meanwhile, in a remote villa at the other end of the island, Nikki's old friend Georgie has rashly agreed to spend a furtive horizontal weekend with a notorious schemer, who has characteristically failed to turn up. Trapped there with her instead is a pompous, balding individual called Dr. Norman Wilfred, who has lost his whereabouts, his luggage, his temper, and increasingly all sense of reality—indeed, everything he possesses other than the text of a well-traveled lecture on the scientific organization of science.

In a spiraling farce about upright academics, gilded captains of industry, ambitious climbers, and dotty philanthropists, Michael Frayn, the farceur "by whom all others must be measured" (CurtainUp), tells a story of personal and professional disintegration, probing his eternal theme of how we know what we know even as he delivers us to the outer limits of hilarity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805095500
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 760,745
File size: 460 KB

About the Author

Michael Frayn is the author of ten novels, including the bestselling Headlong, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice selection and a Booker Prize finalist, and Spies, which received the Whitbread Fiction Award. He has also written a memoir, My Father's Fortune, and fifteen plays, among them Noises Off and Copenhagen, which won three Tony Awards. He lives just south of London.

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Skios: A Novel 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredibly inane! One star overrates this discombobulated cascade of coincidences, most of which are absurd. The author also needs to approach at least the end of the 20th Century: why would a world reknown "scientist" (with an able personal assistant to boot) go around clutching to his repeatedly repeddled lecture on sheets of paper, modified according to location, in this age of laptops, flash drives and other means of storage, or, why would a most efficient administrator confuse the apparently (widely cited on the web) elderly visage of a scientist with young playboy with blonde locks? Most other characters are not more than sad caricatures, some approaching stereotyping... Not worth spending your money; I wasted mine...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book starts out as a great light read. A series of unlikely events places several characters in interesting situations. The characters, absent much development, are then faced with an ever-compounding series of ever more unlikely events. Its all a bit much. There are a few pleasantly comic moments, but how this book made the Booker long list is beyond me.
Rob_Ballister More than 1 year ago
Maybe I have high standards, but to get a good review from me in this genre requires at least one laugh out loud moment, plus one I-need-to-put-the-book-down-or-I'll-die episode, and this book didn't have those. (Note, just about anything I've read from Christopher Moore falls into that category.) It brought a few smiles, and story moved well enough, but it just didn't deliver a lot of out-and-out comedic moments. The basis of the plot is an identity swap between a pompous academic and a ne'er do well loafer who through a bit of design and a lot of luck switch places. Both attempt to fit in where they end up, with comedic results. It can be taken as a comment on high-class society (or possibly organized crime), but not too sure those who read this genre would be looking for a message on either one. Book moves fairly well, the characters are developed enough, and there are some funny spots, just not any REALLY funny spots. Fans of Christopher Moore or Michael Frayn's other works may enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sandiek More than 1 year ago
It's the annual event everyone's been waiting for on the private Greek island of Skios. Nikki, the manager of the prestigious Fred Toppler, has scored a major coup, one that should cement her position as the next Director of the foundation. For the guest lecturer, she has obtained the services of the renowned science management guru, Dr. Norman Wilfred. Rich and famous people are flying in from all over the world, eager to hear the latest nuggets of wisdom from Dr. Wilfred. This will be a major triumph. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, almost everything. A mixup at the airport has a charming imposter, Oliver Fox, taking Dr. Wilfred's place. He knows nothing about the subject, but his good looks and ingraiting ways disguise that fact. The real Dr. Wilfred is stuck at the villa Fox was to stay at; no suitcase, no phone, no way to remedy his situation. Oh, and there is a naked woman sunning at the pool. Georgia is Nikki's best friend and as it turns out, Oliver's weekend fling. She has no idea what is going on, or where Fox has gone. Michael Frayn has written a comedic tour-de-force. The plotting on a comedy is so difficult. It must be very tight, moving the reader forward on a froth of laughter before they can stop and apply the logic to the situation that makes it unbelievable. Frayn is a master, and the reader is thoroughly entertained, eagerly reading to see what happens next and how the entire situation is resolved. Skios is longlisted this year for the Mann Booker prize and it is easy to see why. This book is recommended for readers ready for an entertaining read that skewers the upper class and academia.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Comedy of Errors Dr. Norman Wilfred has flown to Skios to give a distinguished speech to a group of rich academics at the Toppler Foundation. Due to an unfortunate string of coincidences, he is whisked off to a villa while a con artist, Oliver Fox, takes his place at the Toppler gathering. At first blush, this may seem like to be only a farcical comedy of errors. Fun is poked at the distinguished empty-headedness of academia, at silly assumptions people make when they don't have all the information (which, of course, they never do), and at the openness of people to accept whatever is said--as long as it is said by a charismatic person. However, I can see why this book was chosen for the Booker longlist--upon a more careful reading this book has a much deeper undercurrent. It asks questions about identity and about chance Eureka! moments. I found the ease with with Oliver Fox moved into Norman Wilfred's life almost believable because that IS how academia works sometimes. Sometimes, it IS more about how charming you are than about what's actually coming out of your mouth. Sometimes it IS more about your name and about who people think you are than about who you ACTUALLY are. I understand that this book isn't for everybody...but I'm a person who doesn't generally read farcical novels, and I enjoyed this one immensely.
Lectus More than 1 year ago
The first thing I’m going to say is that Skios would make a pretty funny movie because anything with mistaken identity is funny. Dr. Norman Wilfred is going to Skios, a private island on Greece, to give a lecture. On the same flight goes Oliver Fox, kind of a free spirit-modern-hippie who is there for a rendezvous with a married woman. Nikki, in charge of picking the Dr. at the airport picks Oliver instead and that is when the confusion starts. The book is funny but not hilarious. I liked the humor and the confusion but at some point became tired of it. Why? God only knows!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Niftyfriend More than 1 year ago
I am not a laugh out loud person, but Skios had me laughing throughout. There were a few holes in the premise, but after the first few pages, I didn't care. It was a farce. A satire of the public speaking circuit, of organizations and people who take themselves too seriously, set on the imaginary Greek Island Skios. If you allow yourself to honestly reflect on your own weaknesses, you will identify with the portrayals of some of the people or organizations, you will laugh with the misadventures of the four primary characters. Grab a pretty drink, smile the next time you feel required to make small talk and enjoy a fun half skip from reality.