"We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and --bandied/Which way please them." ----"The Duchess of Malfi" --by John Webster
Everything about Stephen Fry's new novel, including the title, will be a surprise, perhaps even a shock. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that it will be his next earth-movingly funny bestseller. And we are still pretty confidently saying it will not be about earthworm migration patterns in East Devon.
This is the story of Ned Maddenstone, a nice young man who is about to find out just what hell it is to be one of the stars' tennis balls. For Ned, 1978 seems a blissful year: handsome, popular, responsible and a fine cricketer, life is progressing smoothly for him, if not effortlessly. When he meets Portia Fendeman his personal jigsaw appears complete. What if her left-wing parents despise his Tory MP father? Doesn't that just make them star-crossed lovers? And surely, in the end, won't the Fendemans be won over by their happiness? But, of course, one person's happiness is another's jealous spite. And spite is about to change Ned's life forever. A promise made to a dying teacher and a vile trick played by fellow pupils rocket Ned from cricket captain to solitary confinement, from head boy to political prisoner. Twenty years later, Ned returns to London a very different man from the boy seized outside a Knightsbridge language college. A man implacably focused on revenge. Revenge is a dish he plans to savour and serve to those who conspired against him, and to those who forgot him.
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The story of a very nice young man called Ned Maddstone who, 20 years after being seized outside a Knightsbridge language college and thrown into solitary confinement as a political prisoner, returns to London implacably focused upon revenge.Review:
Ned Maddstone has it all. He's handsome and talented; he has the love of a beautiful woman and in 1980, he stands at the brink of a glittering future. He rounds off an outstanding public school career with a sailing trip to Scotland, which is where his fortunes enter a terrifying tailspin. Determined to honour the dying wish of his sailing instructor, Ned returns to London, where the schemes of jealous classmates catapult him into a 10-year nightmare. Confined to a solitary Hell, believed dead by all those who loved him, Ned transforms from a terminally nice guy into a creature bent on revenge, a revenge both satisfying and apocalyptic.
Few writers can deliver so much in one package, but here Stephen Fry combines a riotous satire of the privileged classes with elements of the darkest thrillers. While the plot bounces from the sublime to the surreal, his characters remain acutely real. Ned's classmates, slow-witted hedonist Rufus Cade, and the Machiavellian climber Ashley Barson-Garland--who is aroused by the sight of straw boaters--are masterful creations. This novel has nothing to do with tennis, and everything to do with the cruel logic of Fate. Game, set and match to Mr Fry. - - Matthew Baylis
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Book Description HUTCHINSON, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110091801516