The Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending takes us on a rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi.
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE DUFF COOPER PRIZE 2019**
In the summer of 1885, three Frenchmen arrived in London for a few days’ shopping. One was a Prince, one was a Count, and the third was a commoner with an Italian name, who four years earlier had been the subject of one of John Singer Sargent’s greatest portraits. The commoner was Samuel Pozzi, society doctor, pioneer gynaecologist and free-thinker – a rational and scientific man with a famously complicated private life.
Pozzi's life played out against the backdrop of the Parisian Belle Epoque. The beautiful age of glamour and pleasure more often showed its ugly side: hysterical, narcissistic, decadent and violent, a time of rampant prejudice and blood-and-soil nativism, with more parallels to our own age than we might imagine.
The Man in the Red Coat is at once a fresh and original portrait of the Belle Epoque – its heroes and villains, its writers, artists and thinkers – and a life of a man ahead of his time. Witty, surprising and deeply researched, the new book from Julian Barnes illuminates the fruitful and longstanding exchange of ideas between Britain and France, and makes a compelling case for keeping that exchange alive.
‘An absolute tonic for grey winter days’ Evening Standard
"What a deliciously intelligent entertainment this is, couched in a prose of enviable suppleness… a master is at work here."
"One of his best books, very handsomely published too… [The Man in the Red Coat is] a bravura performance, highly entertaining."
"Do not google Samuel Jean Pozzi. If you want to enjoy Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat — and believe me, it’s teeming with delights — stay away from search engines and trust the author to tell the story in his own way… punctuated by the sound of gunshot…[this is a] brilliant, defiantly unconventional book."
"The Belle Époque is brought to life through three colourful lives in this sparkling account stuffed with top fin-de-siècle tittle-tattle."
"Julian Barnes’s wonderful The Man in the Red Coat surges round Belle Epoque Paris… a story full of digressions, white peacocks, missing limbs, amusing adverbs and fantastic clothes. An absolute tonic for grey winter days."
No year is complete without a bit of reading reflection, and as we gaze at 2019's shelves, we're more than a bit pleased with the boldness and breadth of the last 12 months of VINTAGE books. From an insider's look at the realities of modern-day poverty to an acclaimed expose of the data bias towards men, and a long-awaited, Booker-winning dystopian smash hit, here are 10 of the biggest highlights.
An extract from the archive edition of Metroland
Man Booker Prize-winner Julian Barnes discusses the cover design of his new novel, The Noise of Time, with Suzanne Dean. Joined by Alex Clark, they recall key moments in their twenty-year working relationship, as well as the iconic covers that have been created.