"Repressed histories, sexual and political, drive this brilliant and wrenching story
of a man whose emotional response mechanism has been terminally misdirected. …
[Raphael] has created a novel to remember out of a dispassionate vacuum. …
alternately chilling and magnificently tragic."
"[A] riveting, repulsive, and exceptionally rewarding novel."
—Boston Sunday Globe
"[A]n imposing, disturbing, densely textured novel."
Frederic Raphael's 18th novel is also his most ambitious and successful. It is the fictional memoir of a Frenchman who has been constantly untrue to himself. At the heart of Guy de Roumegouse's duplicity is his inability to desire what he desires, to be what he is. And therefore his is a life of imposture, a life steeped in paradox.
Guy's duplicity is echoed in the actions of the French under the Vichy government during the Second World War. An adolescent then, Guy was caught up in the Resistance, but it is what happened — and what did not happen — before and during his period of hiding that truly set the tone for the rest of his life.
A Double Life seeks to excavate the contemporary French psyche via Guy's memories of the betrayals, most of them self-inflicted, that warped his life. This remarkable dramatic monologue is delivered in prose as cold and paradoxical as its narrator, but elegantly crafted and wittily epigrammatic. Guy's rational, French voice allows him to hide his true feelings from himself while disclosing them to readers and providing a powerful, moving narrative.
Frederic Raphael is the author of many novels, story and essay collections, biographies of Byron and Maugham, and translations of poetry and drama from Latin and ancient Greek. He has also written numerous screenplays, including the Academy Award-winning Darling and -nominated Two for the Road. Born in Chicago, he divides his time between London and southwestern France, where much of A Double Life takes place.
$24 cloth, 374 pages, ISBN 0-945774-46-X
To read the first chapter of A Double Life, click here.
To see how A Double Life was received when it came out in Great Britain, see below.
What British Reviewers Said About
Frederic Raphael's Novel A Double Life
"[T]his is good writing that does credit to the contemporary novel because it takes the art seriously.
It could be a contender for a prize or two."
—Alan Judd, Sunday London Times
"The screenwriter of The Glittering Prizes deserves his own glittering prize
for this elegant and eloquent novel. Raphael's excellence of literary writing shines through
in baring innnermost thoughts so at odds with the diplomat's outer self. His father says,
'Your mother hoped that you would be twins.' He replies, 'And was I not?'"
"Our images of France always mingle envy with contempt, but readers who fancy a meatier
blend of contradictions than Peter Mayle's should seek out A Double Life."
—Boyd Tonkin, New Statesman
"[B]eautifully written. There is suspense, irony, breathtaking raccourcis
[pithy descriptions] and humorous metaphors — for instance, picturing Pia,
a good professional, making love 'like a typist.'"
—Marie-Alice de Beaumarchais, The Spectator
"Raphael does our language fine service. In his hands, it is unusually accurate and potent."
—David Hughes, The Mail on Sunday