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The Man in the Red Coat

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  14 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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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.
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.
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.
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
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".
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.
Frans Pollux
Nov 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-radio
Interesting historical book, though a little convoluted at times. BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.
Gerard De bruin
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Nov 21, 2019
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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