Initially, the front cover of Skios confused me. It makes it look like a light holiday read, what my friends and I call a ‘pink book’, or a holiday romance.
But actually, this initial impression is surprisingly accurate. This novel is light and easy to read and a little funny (it may be more funny to most people, but not to me).
My favourite quote by far was: “The almost egregiously English couple, Cedric and Rosamund Chailey, had slipped away quietly when the conversation turned to God. It had not seemed polite to be present when anything so American was being discussed.”
The novel is a traditional farce of the ‘man enters from one door while woman leaves from another door’ variety. I enjoyed it, but have no idea why you would shortlist it for a prestigious award.
The only real theme in the book is identity (mostly in the sense of mistaken identity) and cause and effect, and this is done to death. There are a few relatively interesting quotes on the matter, but these are mostly subsumed by the identity-based twists in the plot line, (maybe purposefully) not helped by the author electing to call both the real and fake versions of individuals by the same name at certain points.
I found the ending of this novel terribly frustrating in a variety of ways. Firstly, it stepped outside the plot to comment on it – an approach I always dislike. You are in the novel’s world, then bam, commentary takes you into the author’s. It always strikes me as horribly self-centred on the author’s part. Secondly, the ending just seems to have very little to do with the rest of the novel. It is like Frayn gave up, or got bored and just wanted to tie everything up.
In sum, this book is fine. Read it by the pool. But don’t you dare let it win a prize.