Double Blind

Edward St. Aubyn. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-90275-9
St. Aubyn (the Patrick Melrose novels) expounds on epigenetics, rewilding, art, neuroscience, and philosophy in this sublime character-driven novel. With his usual elegant prose, St. Aubyn follows three friends—Francis, Olivia, and Lucy—through a transformative year. Naturalist Francis meets biologist Olivia at a “megafauna” conference in Oxford and feels an instant “subterranean attraction.” He later anxiously awaits her visit to the Sussex estate he has vowed to reclaim with its deer, pigs, cattle, and ponies, envisioning an “English savannah.” Meanwhile, Olivia anticipates Lucy’s arrival from New York to London, where she’s taken a job with a venture capital firm headed by the scheming Hunter Sterling. Lucy’s also blindsided by unexplainable muscle spasms that lead to the “high tech phrenology” of a graphically detailed brain biopsy. While she is recovering with Francis and Olivia in Sussex, Hunter helicopters in with caviar, blinis, and vodka. Add the sudden, unexpected appearance of 34-year-old schizophrenic Sebastian Tanner, whose true identity threatens to square the friends’ already fraught triangle and lends an element of mystery. The four embark on a pharmacologically fueled journey from England to Cap d’Antibes to Big Sur, leading to a surprising and enthralling moral and ethical dilemma. St. Aubyn brings off a seemingly effortless and provocative examination of the mind and its refractions. This one’s not to be missed. (June)
Reviewed on : 02/25/2021
Genre: Fiction
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