The Man in the Red Coat
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Knopf Random Vintage Canada
The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending takes us on a rich, witty, revelatory tour of Belle Époque 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: a prince, a count and a commoner with an Italian name. In time, each of these men would achieve a certain level of renown, but who were they then and what was the significance of their sojourn to England? Answering these questions, Julian Barnes unfurls the stories of their lives, playing out against the backdrop of the Belle Époque in Paris. Our guide through this world is Samuel Pozzi, the society doctor, free-thinker and man of science with a famously complicated private life, and the subject of one of John Singer Sargent's greatest portraits.
In this vivid tapestry of people (Henry James, Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, Proust, James Whistler, among many others), place, and time, we see not merely an epoch of glamour and pleasure, but, surprisingly, one of violence, prejudice and nativism--with more parallels to our own age than we might imagine. The Man in the Red Coat is, at once, a fresh portrait of the Belle Époque; an illuminating look at the longstanding exchange of ideas between Britain and France; and a life of a man who lived passionately in the moment but whose ideas and achievements were far ahead of his time.