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Skios

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  3,471 ratings  ·  667 reviews
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

'Good God, thought Oliver, as he saw the smile. She thinks I'm him! And all at once he knew it was so. He was Dr Norman Wilfred.'

On the sunlit Greek island of Skios, the Fred Toppler Foundation's annual lecture is to be given by Dr Norman Wilfred, the world-famous authority on the scientific organisation of science. He turns out to be sur
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Hardcover, 278 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by Faber & Faber (first published 2012)
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3.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,471 ratings  ·  667 reviews


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Barbara

This 'mistaken identity' farce takes place on the beautiful Greek island of Skios. Dr. Norman Wilfred, a well-known British scientist (in some very small circles), is on his way to deliver an esoteric lecture to the annual meeting of the hoity-toity Fred Toppler Foundation. Wilfred's been invited by the event organizer, Nikki Hook - who believes she's found a gem of a lecturer (unlike her predecessors' poor boring choices). The plane to Skios is also carrying fellow Brit Oliver Fox, a good-looki
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Judith
Dec 29, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was going to be very gently disparaging about this book, always thinking that the author could accidentally happen on this site and accidentally read a review and he seems like a nice guy so I didn't want to accidentally hurt his feelings. Then I did something I never do which was to look at the other reviews on this site BEFORE I wrote my review and I saw that he has such rave reviews he can toss off mine like crumbs from the breakfast toast. So since there is no risk of the author slitting h ...more
notgettingenough
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, humour
This is the only novel I've read by Frayn which has somewhat disappointed me and I think I know why. It isn't a novel. It's a play, or more likely, it's a screen play.

One of the very finest things Frayn does (and that is high praise indeed) is frantic farce. He does Fawlty Towers better than John Cleese did it. The human disposition for disaster is something he explores hilariously in Noises Off and again in Clockwise. Not for the first or last time I rue the ignorant critical reception this mov
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Hanneke
Dec 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Can't believe this book was on the 2012 Booker longlist. What a silly book this is or is it slapstick comedy? You can almost hear the canned laughter in the background. Anyway, I found it definitely very UNfunny
Bill
This book is seriously funny. Exceedingly few books have ever made me laugh out loud like this one did, numerous times. If Peter Sellers was still alive, it would make a perfect movie starring him. It's basically all about cases (numerous) of mistaken identity, to hilarious effect. Highly recommended.
Lemar
“She went into the bedroom, turned down the cover, and laid out the white bathrobe and slippers, as richly fluffy has the hide of a subtropical polar bear.” Equally as rich and fluffy is this hilarious novel about a kind of Ted talk on a posh Greek island retreat.

Michael Frayn sets the scene with superbly drawn characters reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse. It’s often said that ‘hilarity ensues’, here, in Skios, it does! This is my first Frayn but already I accept him as a master of topping off funn
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Trish
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Skios may a play posing as a novel, but it is in good company: practically all the characters in this very funny farce are pretending to be someone they are not. And those that don’t pretend to be someone else have it forced upon them. I listened to the audio production of this book, performed with great comedic timing by Robin Sachs, and feel sure that this book is best enjoyed as a performance rather than as a reading experience.

The Fred Toppler Foundation, established by a once-stripper wife
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
It makes sense that Michael Frayn is best known for his plays, because it is impossible to read this without seeing it staged in my mind. Only after I finished it did I realize he is the same playwright who wrote Noises Off. It has the same feeling to it - farce, silliness, chaos, characters who are so wrapped up in being themselves that they don't pay attention or fix their own problems; necessary for the entire thing to work.

Instead of a stage, this is set on a tiny Greek isle. I laughed a lot
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Lobstergirl
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

Deeply stupid.

I just noticed that this was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Of course it was.

It could have been a funny and worthy novel. The overlearned academic in a Davos-type situation, except with half the learned audience replaced by numskulls, had potential. But Frayn took it off the deep end early, and from there it couldn't go anywhere good.

So despite being a short novel, it quickly became tedious and repetitive.
Kaethe Douglas
Skios - Michael Frayn   
Wow! I can't think when I last read a farce, let alone enjoyed one. Probably it was Noises Off. It's difficult to maintain the suspension of disbelief in a text; in a play or film the pace of the action doesn't give one time to consider just how silly, how contrived, how unnatural the whole exercise is. And because Frayn is very skilled, he keeps one from dwelling on how absurd it is, while never forgetting for an instant just how absurd it is.
I don't think I actually lau
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Proustitute
A witty, clever farce. Frayn is very skillful in his use of comedy here, and he takes his time building up the characters so that—by the time one is midway through the novel—his continued introductions and complications are just uproariously fantastical and often laugh-out-loud hysterical.

Frayn's use of dialogue is very smart: I was often reminded of reading a script at times, something that works quite well for the more darkly humorous episodes in Skios as one can almost see this enacted as if
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Michael Kipnis
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I have to admit that I had some doubts with my rating of the book. From the one hand, in its genre it is a very good example of easy-reding, it might be mentioned that "Skios" does not pretend to be a serious book with strong system of images, which needs careful analysis. Moreover, when I discovered that the author, Michael Frayn, is 80 years old I was almost shocked, because the book looks very contemporary, it has very nice language, without difficult constructions. So, it is no ...more
Jim Leffert
From the author of that sublime theatrical farce, Noises Off, comes this loopy tale. It's about an array of misguided characters who get into a barrel full of pickles at a foundation’s annual conference at the foundation's archeologically rich and scenic estate on Skios, a Greek island. Front and center, we have the invited keynote speaker, Norman Wilfred, who ends up elsewhere on the island, and a charming bounder named Oliver Fox, who is taking his place. Fox, who has swiped Wilfred’s identity ...more
Egor
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sort of those nice books that you read without trying to follow the plot or getting the main idea - you read just to enjoy the process. From this point of view, Skios is perfect.
However, there are some weaknesses to complain of. First of all, the plot was really complicated, even a bit labyrinthine, especially for a non-native speaker. It took me really long to puzzle out who was who. What really puzzled me is that Annuka Vos, a character that was mentioned only in few odd remarks, fin
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Aaron (Typographical Era)
Humorous. Hilarious. Absurd. Funny. All of these words can be used to adequately describe the tightly written, complex ensemble of off the wall characters that populate the world of Michael Frayn’s Skios, but only one word can accurately describe the story itself: farce. Judging this novel by the very definition of this word – a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot – Skios effortlessly exceeds all expectations, but is worthy of the Man Booker Prize? U ...more
David
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Don't get me wrong. This was very amusing fluff, skillfully executed. Frayn is, after all, the author of "Noises Off", so his chops for farce are indisputable. But farce is like souffle - it's fun at the time, but you'll have forgotten it by the next day. Other than the deus ex machina at the end, the story in "Skios" unfolded along completely predictable lines. Nothing wrong with that -- I think part of the pleasure in reading this kind of story is seeing how well the author acquits himself wit ...more
Robert Wechsler
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-lit
Reading this novel, I thought a lot about prose (as opposed to dramatic) farce, why it is difficult to write and why it is an excellent discipline for aspiring writers.

Farce is a very formal genre, with rules equivalent to meter and rhyme scheme. But it is genre written downhill. Setting up the situations gives them a momentum that an author has to keep up with in order to control. A farce out of control is not a farce. That is why most farcical American literature is something other than farce.
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Mal Warwick
A Funny Story by a Veteran British Playwrignt and Author

You may have heard of Michael Frayn without remembering his name. The successful British playwright and novelist is best known for the stage plays Noises Off, a frequently produced farce of mistaken identities, and Copenhagen, which portrays a meeting in 1941 between two of the giants of 20th Century physics, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, at a time when Heisenberg was thought to be working on an atomic bomb for the Nazi regime.

In Skios,
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Natalie
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think reading this book isn't the waste of time. It's hilarious, easy and it just helps you to relax after a busy day.
I like it when there are a lot of plot lines in the book and in the end they all come to one point. All characters meet with each other, the truth comes out and everything seems so clear, because all secrets are out... And then there's another plot twist, and you wonder, how it could happen and what if it didn't happen.
The plot is gripping, because you can't even imagine what
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Elisha Condie
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm helpless when presented with these kind of books (...or movies...or tv shows...) - characters stumbling over one another in a carefully choreographed farce gets me Every. Single. Time. I love it.

This author wrote the play "Noises Off" which I saw as a kid and still remember just loving. This book is about the fancy Toppler Foundation on the island of Skios in Greece. An intellectual is due to speak, gets mixed up in a case of mistaken identity with the charismatic free spirit who takes it
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Laura
From BBc radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
On the Greek island of Skios, guests of a celebrated foundation prepare for the yearly lecture, given by scientific guru Dr Norman Wilfred. He turns out to be surprisingly charismatic. In fact he's not Dr Wilfred but a handsome chancer called Oliver Fox who has allowed himself to be misidentified.

Meanwhile sexy Georgie, awaiting Oliver, is trapped in a remote villa with the real Dr Wilfred; he has lost his luggage and himself.

In 'Skios', skilfully dramatised by
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Sarah
Mar 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As long as you don't expect anything more than amusement, this book is fine for the first 150 pages. Then it begins a long, slow descent, which finally culminates - in the last 30 pages - in a horrific crash landing.
Chuck
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skios is absolutely hilarious . . . at least until one crosses the midpoint. As Shakespeare demonstrated with The Comedy of Errors, it is possible to construct a successful comical farce, based on mistaken identities, in a relatively short amount of space. If Michael Frayn had followed the Bard's example, he might well have produced a clear winner. But Frayn apparently couldn't resist the temptation to extend and to complicate, and in the process of falling into that trap, he ends up undercuttin ...more
Davidg
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's be honest, this is silly farcical book with a silly farcical plot. One of the one star reviews complains that it is not believeable, and it isn't. It is a farce, written by a master farceur. Frayn has said that he wanted to see if it were possible to write the same sort of farce as you find in the theatre as a novel and apart from one huge flaw he has succeeded.

I won't summarise the plot, others have tried, but like all farces it just gets more complicated and sillier as it goes on. And n
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Nicola Sheppey
I bought this book for a holiday read after spotting it in Waterstones. The reviews and the fact it was longlisted for the Booker prize grabbed me; I wanted a light, easy read but also something clever and unique. This did not look set to disappoint... but sadly, it did.

The opening was promising, but as the book progressed it felt like it was going in circles. The characters made stupid decisions and didn't seem to treat their situations seriously at all. Oliver was downright dislikable, I pitie
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Robert
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Frayn’s novel Skios is comic, witty, provocative and outlandish. I picked it up because it is set on a Greek island, and I love Greek islands, and it clearly was determined to make farcical fun of a foundation pow-wow, and that appealed to me, too. There’s something about pretentious gatherings in idyllic places--islands, old castles, alpine lodges and seigniorial estates--that begs for laughter but seldom is given its due.

Frayn’s central device is the core of comedy going back millennia
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Beth (bibliobeth)
I haven’t read anything by Michael Frayn before although I have heard a lot of good things, so when this novel was long-listed for the Man Booker prize last year I thought I’d give it a go. The story is about a bizarre and amusing mix up when Oliver Fox, a young man bored with his life and looking for some excitement decides to pretend to be someone else. Except that someone else is an emminent lecturer who is due to give a talk to some V.I.P’s at the Fred Toppler foundation. Meanwhile, the real ...more
DubaiReader
May 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, audible
Cringeworthy.
Having thoroughly enjoyed Spies by Michael Frayn, I have not found the other books that I've read by him to be anywhere near as good. Skios was no exception. It was full of irritatingly stupid people with no idea where they are or what they are supposed to be doing. It was better suited to a play in the genre of farce, which I would then avoid.

The main character is Oliver Fox, who decides to take on the identity of Dr Norman Wilfred, simply because he takes a fancy to the young lad
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Helena Halme
I've read a few of Michael Frayn's books and although they're not my kind of novels, I've enjoyed reading them and even found myself thinking back to the characters long after. This is strange, since I feel the characters are exactly what annoy me in his stories.

Take Skios, his latest book. All the main protagonists in this novel are far too close to being caricatures for my liking: There's the celebrated scientist Dr Wilfred, who is due to deliver a speech at a high-brow event at something cal
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Dillwynia Peter
TECHNOLOGY KILLS FARCE!!!!!

When one thinks of all the stories of mistaken identity and the funny consequences that have been written about over the centuries, one suddenly wonders why it is absent from literature now. Or so I thought, but as I read this it hit me. Modern technology has killed this off. You can't be easily mistaken with the volume of data about everyone - all those pics, all that documentation etc.

And this is why this book has serious issues; in fact, it only works if you go into
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Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more
“The almost egregiously English couple, Cedric and Rosamund Chailey, had slipped quietly away when the conversation turned to God. It had not seemed polite to be present when anything so American was being discussed.” 7 likes
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