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Double Blind (2021)

Tekijä: Edward St. Aubyn

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1394187,414 (3.28)8
Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Double Blind follows three close friends and their circle through a year of extraordinary transformation. Set inLondon, Cap d'Antibes, Big Sur, and a rewilded corner of Sussex, this thrilling, ambitious novel is about the headlong pursuit of knowledge??for the purposes of pleasure, revelation, money, sanity, or survival??and the consequences of fleeing from what we know about others and ourselves.
When Olivia meets a new lover just as she is welcoming her best friend, Lucy, back from New York, her dedicated academic life expands precipitously. Her connection to Francis, a committed naturalist living off the grid, is immediate and startling. Eager to involve Lucy in her joy, Olivia introduces the two??but Lucy has received shocking news of her own that binds the trio unusually close. Over the months that follow, Lucy's boss, Hunter, Olivia's psychoanalyst parents, and a young man named Sebastian are pulled into the friends' orbit, and not one of them will emerge unchanged.
Expansive, playful, and compassionate, Edward St. Aubyn's Double Blind investigates themes of inheritance, determinism, freedom, consciousness, and the stories we tell about ourselves. It is as compelling about ecology, psychoanalysis, genetics, and neuroscience as it is about love, fear, and courage. Most of all, it is a perfect expression of the interconnections it sets out to examine, and a moving evocation of an imagined world that is deeply intelligent, often tender, curious, and very much al
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näyttää 4/4
Set mostly in present day England, this book is an unusual blend of friendship, science, mental health, relationships, environmentalism, business, and relationships. The storyline encompasses the interactions among four primary characters. Olivia, Francis, Lucy, and Hunter. Olivia is working on a book with her father about mental health research. She has just met and formed a relationship with Francis, a natural scientist living off-grid. Her best friend, Lucy, is just returning from the US, and will be working for reckless, self-centered, wealthy entrepreneur, Hunter.

The relationships among these characters are the focus of the book. Olivia’s parents, both psychologists, also play a role, along with one of her dad’s patients, Sebastian. There are also a few supporting characters that add interest and flavor. For example, there is a cardinal and an abbot wanting to map the brain of a monk who has taken a vow of silence and use it in a religious-based video game.

The writing is lively and spirited, providing insight into the characters’ thoughts, emotions, and motivations. It is also a thinking person’s book, with lots of references mental health topics and the factors that play a role in brain function. I think the reader needs to be interested in science in order to fully appreciate it, since psychology, research, drug studies, nature, biology, and brain diseases are integral to narrative. All the themes are woven into the storyline – it is not a soapbox or preachy in any way. I was enthralled with it. I had never read anything by Edward St. Aubyn before, but I plan to check out his other books. What a great writer! ( )
  Castlelass | Jan 24, 2023 |
Olivia and Lucy had been friends for a long time. Then their careers took them into different directions after their studies in biology - Olivia remained in academia in Oxford, Lucy went to work for a consulting company in the United States. Shortly before the novel started, Lucy's visa renewal had been rejected and even though her company was ready to offer her a position in their London office, she decided to accept a new job - with a millionaire's tech company. So when we meet the two friends, Lucy is catching a plane to get back to London while Olivia had just met a new guy and is exploring their new relationship.

The millionaire, Hunter, is exactly what you would expect from someone in his position - demanding, annoying and self-centered. The boyfriend, Francis, is a naturalist, living off the grid on a remote farm, owned by friends who had decided to try to implement a wilding project - letting the farm go back to its natural form, with Francis as the man on the ground. Add to this a few scientists, a disgraced professor (well, he gets disgraced at one point anyway), an abbot from Assisi, a Vatican cardinal and a California modern hippie with a lot of money and you have most of the cast surrounding Hunter. To that list, you need to add Olivia's parents (both of whom are psychoanalysts), one of her father's patients and a deadly tumor and the novel starts shaping up.

St. Aubyn does not miss a chance to make fun of something - being it academia (and some of its conventions), big corporations, the Church (which is not much different from the big corporations) or even the seemingly harmless naturalist in the story - nature does not always mean just wholesome things. But somewhere in there is hiding also a very human story of the 2 women and the men who change their lives in more than one way. And even if it is not a romance, the story works as one in its overall story.

I was a bit worried before I started the book because I found the previous two St. Aubyn novels (Lost for Words and Dunbar) to be his weakest. This one is somewhat of a return to his own style and I think it worked better for it. It does not have the single main character as a center of the novel as his early novels did but it has the two friends, Lucy and Olivia, in that spot and that friendship is what ties the story together. The end remains almost open - we never learn if Sebastian is who we (and his psychoanalyst) think he is but it almost does not matter because in the last pages Fate takes over. But then the ending fits - the novel is a "year in the life of" kind of thing and wrapping everything nicely would not have really made sense. Neither it would fit St. Aubyn's style. ( )
  AnnieMod | Jan 12, 2023 |
I enjoyed this novel more for its creativity than for the actual story. It did have a lot of satire but it is not up to the level of the Melrose Stories. The book deals with various characters living in England and working on various projects to address environmental issues. The interplay between the characters and the St. Aubyn's prose kept my interest but in the end there were too many loose ends in this book . Read the Patrick Melrose novels to really see St. Aubyn at his best. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Oct 27, 2021 |
In Double Blind, Edward St. Aubyn has an agenda. There are a set of themes, or at least topics — the hegemony of science, nature’s capacity to heal itself, the mapping of consciousness, and so on — and St. Aubyn has a series of key points to make about each of his topics or themes. In a novel, that is sometimes accomplished by gifting those points to various characters, which here seems to be the principle reason any character is present. Of course there is also the unfortunate necessity of moving these cipher-characters to the right place at the right time to say what St. Aubyn, I think, would like to say himself. Hence the laborious plodding of plot.

Lucie and Olivia are friends from school where they were both immensely smart. Olivia is still a scientist. Lucie is a scientific consultant, mostly for vastly rich individuals who want to take advantage of whatever is hot in science these days. Olivia likes Francis who is a practical environmentalist involved in a rewilding project. Lucie likes her new boss, Hunter, whose megalomania is remarkably tempered by his growing affection for Lucie. There are other characters too. But having got his various characters to say the various things he needs them to say, St. Aubyn just stops. Which is rather a limiting factor for anything like a narrative arc that might be developing via that clunky plot thing. Alas!

This wants to be a novel of ideas. Perhaps it wants to be a Don DeLillo novel. Or failing that an Ian McEwan novel. But it doesn’t even reach that less heroic height. It ends up just being a disappointment. (Even where you might want to agree with points in St. Aubyn’s agenda, you’ll just be embarrassed.) And, most regrettably, it’s not funny either.

Not recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jun 19, 2021 |
näyttää 4/4
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Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Double Blind follows three close friends and their circle through a year of extraordinary transformation. Set inLondon, Cap d'Antibes, Big Sur, and a rewilded corner of Sussex, this thrilling, ambitious novel is about the headlong pursuit of knowledge??for the purposes of pleasure, revelation, money, sanity, or survival??and the consequences of fleeing from what we know about others and ourselves.
When Olivia meets a new lover just as she is welcoming her best friend, Lucy, back from New York, her dedicated academic life expands precipitously. Her connection to Francis, a committed naturalist living off the grid, is immediate and startling. Eager to involve Lucy in her joy, Olivia introduces the two??but Lucy has received shocking news of her own that binds the trio unusually close. Over the months that follow, Lucy's boss, Hunter, Olivia's psychoanalyst parents, and a young man named Sebastian are pulled into the friends' orbit, and not one of them will emerge unchanged.
Expansive, playful, and compassionate, Edward St. Aubyn's Double Blind investigates themes of inheritance, determinism, freedom, consciousness, and the stories we tell about ourselves. It is as compelling about ecology, psychoanalysis, genetics, and neuroscience as it is about love, fear, and courage. Most of all, it is a perfect expression of the interconnections it sets out to examine, and a moving evocation of an imagined world that is deeply intelligent, often tender, curious, and very much al

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