The Lost Ones

Frederick Tristan, Author William Morrow & Company $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-02336-2
This ingeniously plotted, briskly paced novel by a winner of France's Prix Goncourt prize chronicles the careers of two ambitious young Englishmen, Cyril Pumpermaker and Jonathan Varlet, who pull off a stupendous literary hoax in the 1930s and become fabulously wealthy in the process. When Cyril writes a melodramatic first novel called Beelzebub, Jonathan, who cheerfully admits to having no literary talent, claims the work as his own, under the nom de plume Gilbert Keith Chesterfield. His knack for promotion turns Beelzebub , as well as Cyril's subsequent novels, into bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic. Still posing as Chesterfield, Jonathan becomes a courageous critic of nascent Nazism and fascism, while Cyril, a reclusive boor, finds his own personality deepens with the ruse. Tristan's witty observations are not limited to the historical period, but encompass a wide variety of metaphysical topics. Although it ends on a discordant note, his novel, propelled by the author's madcap imagination, celebrates life. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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