cover image The Stonehenge Letters

The Stonehenge Letters

Harry Karlinsky. Coach House Books (Consortium; U.S. dist.; PGC, Canadian dist.), $17.95 trade Paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-55245-294-3

The author of The Evolution of Inanimate Objects intrigues with his second novel, an ambitious blend of fact and fiction. The reserved, unnamed narrator, a "retired psychiatrist and amateur historian" sets out to discover why Sigmund Freud never received a Nobel Prize, hoping to justify a career built upon Freud's "no longer venerated" theories. The plot changes course when his research reveals the existence of a curious contest established by Alfred Nobel: 60,000 Swedish kronor to the person who solves the mystery of Stonehenge. Karlinsky paints a touching picture of the lonely Nobel who becomes enamoured of Stonehenge via the passion of its caretaker, Florence Antrobus. The book is largely composed of absorbing letters written by a host of the 20th century's most impressive men and women. Karlinsky captures the boldness of Theodore Roosevelt, the genius of Marie Curie, and the wit of Albert Einstein as they offer their proposals to solve the mystery. The book seamlessly combines the real and the imagined with the help of photographs and excerpts from the works of its illustrious cast. It is at times more like a history textbook than a work of fiction but rewards with surprising touches of humor and a nuanced take on the lives of Nobel winners. Agent: Carolyn Swayze. (June)