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The Man in the Red Coat

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The Man 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

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
Published November 7th 2019 by Vintage Digital
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  • The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes
    The Man in the Red Coat
    Release date: Feb 18, 2020
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    Average rating 3.78  · 
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    Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favorites
    Julian Barnes has done it ... He wrote a book that I read twice, which has not happened to me this year ...
    The book, which has three central characters, two aristocrats and a commoner who became an aristocrat in his profession, is a biography of these three gentlemen, but in fact it is much, much more. Julian Barnes presents the period which is now called the Belle Epoque, talking masterfully about everyone who mattered then in any discipline, politics, literary world or in any other way, and
    Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: uk, 2019-read
    In this nonfictional account, Barnes paints a busy picture of Belle Epoque Paris and London, thus evoking a time of duels and dandyism, the rise of modernity with its faith in rationality, individualism and progress, but also illustrating the role of nationalism, classism, and sexism - and more than anything, this book is a celebration of the close connections and fruitful exchanges between England and the continent. The main hero of this historic tale is Dr. Samuel Pozzi, French descendent of ...more
    David Wineberg
    Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I am not in the habit of picking up biographies of people I never heard of and have no idea why I should. But Julian Barnes proved me quite wrong. He did it in an unusual way, with a dramatic portrait by John Singer Sargent of Sargent’s friend Dr. Samuel Pozzi when they were both young men. Entering that world, Barnes leads the reader on a branching journey of infinite connections to everyone who meant anything in the Belle Epoque in France (1870-1914). Barnes sets it up as a mystery, piecing ...more
    Oct 24, 2019 marked it as decided-against  ·  review of another edition
    I completely misjudged this one: I thought it would be historical fiction, but it's actually narrative nonfiction about an obscure historical figure. I found it dull and impenetrable and gave up after just nine pages.
    Marcus Hobson
    In 2013 Julian Barnes published a book called Levels of Life, which as well as confronting the death of his wife, also told tales of early balloon flights over France, early photography and some of the loves of the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Some is fact and some is fiction. It is a great narrative of humour and minute observations. From the description of this new book, I thought that it might be similar. In some ways it was, only with a little less magic.

    It took me a little while to figure out
    Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
    An interesting look at the life of Dr. Samuel Pozzi, the subject of John Singer Sargent's 1881 painting "Dr. Pozzi at Home." I say "a look at the life" because the book is not, strictly speaking, a biography. I get the feeling that Julian Barnes was interested in and admired Dr. Pozzi (for reasons I'll go into later), and perhaps considered a novelistic treatment, but decided instead to write about the Belle Epoque in which Pozzi lived and of which he was an ornament. In that "decadent" and ...more
    Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: non-fiction, history
    Gelezen in de Nederlandse vertaling. Geweldig boek, ik waande me in Parijs rond 1900.
    Sorin Hadârcă
    Well-written and obsessively researched, this biography allows you to immerse in Paris of the Belle Epoque, a fancy perhaps, given that it is Barnes' cup of tea, but also a manifesto: in your face brexiteers. Pozzi (the man in the red coat) is not an illustrious figure, but many other figurantes are: Proust, Sarah Bernhardt and Oscar Wilde to name a few. A book to enjoy, an epoch to remember.
    Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Within one page of opening this book, I relaxed into the arms of a master story-teller. There's that distinctive Julian Barnes voice - intelligent, urbane, confident - and he sustains it the whole way through this rather strange book.

    What is it? The publisher's designation on the back of the book is 'Biography', but it's certainly not a cradle-to-grave biography. It starts with three men travelling to London for some 'intellectual and decorative shopping'. One was Dr Pozzi, surgeon and
    Sabine Hélène
    Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Author's note, p 266 - London, May 2019:
    "(...) Still, I decline to be pessimistic. Time spent in the distant, decadent, hectic, violent, narcissistic and neurotic Belle Epoque has left me cheerful. Mainly because of the figure of Samuel Jean Pozzi. (...) Who was rational, scientific, progressive, international and constantly inquisitive; who filled his life with medicine, art, books, travel, society, politics and as much sex as possible (though all we cannot know). He was, thankfully, not
    Samuel Pozzi was a famed gynaecologist in 19th century France. He treated the famous and the infamous and hung around with lots of notable folk. This is not just a biography of Pozzi but also of the relationship between France and England and of La Belle Epoque. I was intrigued by all the mentions of literary giants and this book was beautifully designed with lots of portrait paintings and photographs.
    Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Julian Barnes fascinatie voor Samuel Pozzi, een franse chirurg ten tijde van de Belle Epoque, komt tot uiting in dit boek. Het resultaat van deze fascinatie is een biografische zoektocht naar Pozzi en zijn tijdsgenoten. Een aanrader voor iedereen die geïnteresseerd is in deze tijdsperiode, de maatschappelijke verhoudingen en de ontwikkelingen in de chirurgie!

    Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
    From BBC radio 4:
    Book of the Week.Man Booker Prize-winning author Julian Barnes takes us on a rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi.
    Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
    I read The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes this year and loved it. This book, however, I found disappointing and confusing.
    I thought it was to be a biography of a 19th-century French gynaecologist, an interesting subject. I suppose that it was, from time to time, but it was much more a look at French society in the late 19th century (and at Oscar Wilde - he featured prominently in this work) or, to be more precise, at a certain group within French society, namely the aristocracy and a large
    Martin Kerr
    Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
    January 6, 2020
    Martin Kerr
    The Man in the Red Coat
    By Julian Barnes
    Jonathan Cape, London. 1919, 266pp

    Plenty of dangerous gossip in a divided era

    The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes looks at France, and to a lesser extent England and America and its creative exports, at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th La Belle Epoque: ‘They sent us their ousted leaders and dangerous revolutionaries; we sent them our posh riff-raff’. (p35)
    The author is a Francophile (his parents were language
    Nick Binge
    Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: 2019-reads
    I will begin by saying that this book is not, by any means, what I expected it to be. The blurb suggests a focus on one man, a Samuel Pozzi, the titular character, and I was expecting a fascinating tale of a life I had never heard of before. I got annoyed early on by the digressions, the musings and the delving into other areas.

    This is not a biography. It is a non-fiction, academic and highly researched discussion of the Belle Epoque - the late 19th and early 20th century - as it played across
    Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    De 5 sterren zijn niet alleen voor de inhoud, maar ook voor het boek zelf. Prachtig uitgevoerd!
    Het verhaal is een soort verhaal over het leven van de chirurg/gynaecoloog dr. Pozzi aan de hand van van een schilderij van John Sargent Singer, die hem afbeeldde in een felrode kamerjas. Het speelt allemaal in de z.g. Belle Epoque (eind 19de - begin 20ste eeuw) waaraan een eind kwam door de eerste wereldoorlog. Het gebeurt grotendeels in Parijs, maar ook in Londen en iedereen, die in die tijd literair
    Willem Hoksbergen
    Hoewel ik een groot fan ben van het proza van Julian Barnes, stuitte de hoeveelheid namen van de aristocratische dandy's, filmhelden, schrijvers, kunstenaars, graven, prinsen en journalistieke roddelaars tijdens de Bell Époque mij, naarmate het boek vorderde, meer en meer tegen de borst. In die zin was ik opgelucht toen ik het boek uit had.
    Samuel Prozzi steekt als rationalist en excellent geneesheer uit boven deze mensen en heeft een onmiskenbaar interessant leven geleid maar toch bleef hij ook
    Richard Hoare
    Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
    Can't quite believe I'm only giving 3 stars to a book by one of my favourite authors, particularly as I am actually interested in 19th century French literature and culture. I liked the Sargent picture of one of the central figures in the book, Dr Samurl Pozzi, and Barnes' analysis of it. The doctor's enlightened medical practices and treatment of female patients were a highlight. The research was also impressive and the writing, at times, as succinct and incisive as you would expect. However, I ...more
    Caroline Thorley
    Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This is a hugely enjoyable and informative book. It's not a biography of Dr Samuel Pozzi (the man in the red coat of the portrait by John Singer Sargent which is actually called Dr Pozzi at home) but a portrait of the period of French history called La Belle Epoque. Dr Pozzi does play a large part in this book for, as Julian Barnes says, Pozzi was everywhere. The book is full of famous and less well-known figures from literature, art, music and science - Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and his ...more
    Rob O'Hearn
    Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Booker-Prize-winner Julian Barnes writes so eloquently he could make a shopping list captivating!

    "The Man in the Red Coat" is his diverting new non-fiction, a rumination on the French Belle Epoque, touring through the colour and camp of continental high society and touching on too many subjects to list here. Rich eccentrics flaunt their intellectual credentials to each other, air-kissing Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Sarah Bernhardt and more. The French despise the British and the feeling seems
    Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: audiobook
    A biography of the pioneering Belle Epoque Parisian surgeon Samuel Pozzi. [it is him we have to thank for warming the speculum and for the theory that surgical intervention should be swift, rather than waiting for the patient to get stronger.]
    He also wrote ‘chauvinism is one of the forms of ignorance’. I think I like him.
    Aristocrats of Hellenic tendency… posh riff raff.
    The heir of the Singer fortune marrying a discrete but known homosexual when she was a discrete but known lesbian.
    Ooh so
    Klaas Roggeman
    Jan 07, 2020 rated it liked it
    Shelves: history, non-fiction
    Ever since reading Flaubert's Parrot in my first year at university Barnes has been one of my favourite authors. In all those years he has rarely let me down. I can only recall disliking Before She Met Me.

    I was put off a bit by this one at first, mainly because it was not what I was expecting, namely a story. It is on the other hand a rather chaotic account of a late 19th century French gynecologist and even more so of the age in which he lived, the Belle Époque.

    Yet the language and quirkiness
    John Kaye
    Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
    I found it difficult to engage with the characters in this book. Though Barnes' writing is strong, clever and witty, the structure of the book kept me off-balance. I realise that this was probably the intention of Barnes, who wasn't writing a conventional biography but a portrait of a certain sort of France, well, just upper-class Paris really. The author makes it clear throughout, and explicitly at the end that he is more in sympathy with the French approach to life than the English, even ...more
    Claire Steele
    Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
    Barnes' account of the life of Samuel Jean de Pozzi conjures up a fin de siecle society: decadent and daring, given to excesses and grand gestures, and also to political upheaval and scandal. It is a society frighteningly similar to our own. There is much to enjoy here, not least the intimacy of the tone in which Barnes shares his discoveries, the photos, the conjectures. Like all biography it has an element of voyeurism, this time amplified by the subject matter. It didn't absolutely come off ...more
    Irina Gkini
    A masterpiece of writing skill, but something went wrong with the story. I very much admired Barnes' skill in meta-analysis (a man we know through a portrait, whose friend is know through his literary Belle Epoque caricature) and I am a big fan of his witty prose and irony. However, the middle part of the book is, as himself so elegantly described "a belle Epoque phone catalogue, where all the subscribers are dead".
    Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: non-fiction
    *A beautiful book in the visual sense, but it never really gripped me. At times, I noticed an oddness to its structure--certain things (unnecessarily) repeated, for example.
    *I did enjoy his use of the adverb "Frenchly" ...and later on "Belgianly."
    "Time is equally the enemy of the butterfly, the dandy and the epigram" (209). *I like this, but is it to be considered an epigram?
    Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
    A story of three Frenchmen - two aristos and a gynecologist, who come to London for intellectual and decorative shopping. This fascinating sidelight on Remembrance of THings Past - just serialized on BBC Radio 4 - is witty and thoroughly researched. Darwin, the bullet that shot Pushkin, Sarah Bernhardt's leg and much more bring the Belle Époque to vibrant life.
    Michael Sanderson-green
    Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
    When I bought this book I thought it was a new Barnes novel, but my disappointment was put to one side as I got into this biography of Samuel Pozzi. It is a great book to read to understand the late 19th century France with its aristocracy and dandyism. As Julian Barnes states one of the goods to come from WWI was the devolution of these people’s arrogance.
    John Gall
    Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I loved this book, read over Christmas 2019. Transported me to a period of time, the Belle Époque, of which I knew little. A string of interesting, amusing and horrible characters, but never dull. Well worth a read....
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    Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

    Following an education at the City of London School