by Michael Frayn | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0571212026 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Robbiesmum of Thirsk, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on 5/20/2003
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Robbiesmum from Thirsk, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 20, 2003
The blurb on the back cover says "A beautifully accomplished, richly nostalgic novel about supposed second-world-war spionage seen through the eyes of a young boy" Sunday Times.

In the quiet cul-de-sac where Keith and Stephen live the only immediate signs of the Second World War are the blackout at night and a single random bombsite. But the two boys start to suspect all is not as it seems when one day Keith announces a disconcerting discovery; the Germans have infiltrated his own family. And when the secret underground world they have dreamed up emerges from the shadows they find themselves engulfed in mysteries far deeper and more painful than they had bargained for.

Whitbread Novel of the Year 2002 in the UK
Planning to start a book ring for this book

Journal Entry 2 by Robbiesmum from Thirsk, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Monday, May 26, 2003
I sat up and finished this last night. It's a strangely compelling book as you are always a couple of steps ahead of Stephen as he is working out the mysteries on the Close. It's very believable knowing the boys were being brought up in an environment of distrust - and also very disturbing. Their imaginations run wild and can cause harm to others. The Close seemed so like the Close where my mum spent her early childhood, and also knew people whose houses were bombed. I enjoyed this book very much for the tense atmosphere, the suspense and the distrust in the war. I also thought the author was very clever in showing how Stephen half-understood situations like Keith's parents' relationship, and now as an adult, can look back knowing the full situation, and what Stephen was really involved in. I'm glad I set up this bookring as it is a book I'd like to hear other people's views on.

Journal Entry 3 by Robbiesmum at -- Controlled Release in Lancaster, Lancashire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Released on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 at Postal Release to another BXer in USA in Lancaster, lancashire United Kingdom.

Spies is on its first step of its journey on my first Bookring! Off to pheonix01!!

Journal Entry 4 by Robbiesmum from Thirsk, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, June 06, 2003
Order of BookRing:
Back to me
I've just added this as a reminder.

Journal Entry 5 by pheonix01 from Ozark, Alabama USA on Tuesday, June 17, 2003
I really enjoyed this book, I finished it in one sitting. The characters were great, the story had a wonderful flow. This book will continue its jouney through the bookring to ladyofunicorns.

Journal Entry 6 by ladyofunicorns from Santa Fe, New Mexico USA on Sunday, June 22, 2003
I just received this and as soon as I have finished the other rings/rays that I have sitting here, I will read this one. Shouldn't be anymore than a week...

Journal Entry 7 by ladyofunicorns from Santa Fe, New Mexico USA on Sunday, July 13, 2003
I found this book a little slow moving in parts but otherwise enjoyable!

Journal Entry 8 by ladyofunicorns at on Saturday, July 19, 2003
Released on Saturday, July 19, 2003 at to fellow bookcrosser in postal release, postal release USA.

being sent to KiwiKat! Enjoy!

Journal Entry 9 by KiwiKat from Blenheim, Marlborough New Zealand on Sunday, July 27, 2003
Received this today. Will read straight away and pass along to FutureCat...ASAP!!

Journal Entry 10 by KiwiKat from Blenheim, Marlborough New Zealand on Saturday, August 02, 2003
It took me a few pages to get into this one, but I once I did I really enjoyed it. It was a sort of edgy reflection of how childhood games can take on a deeper seriousness that has repercussions in adult lives. It was also an interesting study in how children slowly come to grips (or don't) with what the adults in their lives say, do, feel, have to endure...as these children slowly peel back the layers of childhood and grow into adulthood. Thanks for including me in this bookring, Robbiesmum. On to FuturCat next!

Journal Entry 11 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Saturday, August 02, 2003
Left in my letterbox by Kiwikat today - thanks Kiwikat!

There's a couple of other bookring books in my TBR pile ahead of this one, but I promise to get to it as quickly as possible!

^ ^

Journal Entry 12 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Saturday, August 09, 2003
I too found this a bit slow to get into, but really enjoyed it once I did (although there were quite a few passages that I found myself re-reading several times trying to get the meaning of).

Reminiscent of The God Boy in its view of an adult world through a child's eyes. The switching back and forth between the adult and child Stephen was cleverly done.

Journal Entry 13 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Monday, August 11, 2003
Sending off to nikel27 in Germany tomorrow.

Journal Entry 14 by nikel27 from -- Irgendwo / Somewhere --, Hessen Germany on Friday, August 22, 2003
arrived safe here at my bookshelf, have to put it first on my TBR-Pile for Rings/Rays.

update 09/23/2003:
Okay, I must say I have had to start this book twice before I really got into the story and after that I like it very much.

asked the next member for the address and will the sent the book off next week

Release planned for Tuesday, October 07, 2003 at Postal System in Ginsheim, Hessen Germany.

goes out to the next member mfa/Portugal

EnJoy !!!

Journal Entry 16 by mfa from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Monday, October 20, 2003
just got this book on the mail - thanks nikel27!

Journal Entry 17 by mfa from Lisboa - City, Lisboa (cidade) Portugal on Friday, November 07, 2003
although it is beautifully written, i'm afraid i couldn't enjoy this book as much as i expected. the main reason being that i found the main character a little bit too slow and passive, and i couldn't relate to him at all. what would have been an otherwise exciting event seems to turn into a huge nothingness through his words. that in itself might be a message, but it's probably too far fetched - furthermore, i do have a problem with kids theoretically not being able to understand what's really going on, because that's not how i remember my childhood at all :)
above all, i found the pun between "germans" and "germs" a bit annoying.
however, i thought the way the narrator is split into two different voices a very interesting approach to memory. and the end somehow makes up for the lack of rythm of most of the story.
i'm glad i got the chance to read it, and will pass it along now.

Journal Entry 18 by mfa at on Sunday, November 09, 2003
Released on Sunday, November 09, 2003 at mailed to another bookcrosser in Lisboa, lisboa Portugal.

mailed to herrundmeyer, in germany.

Journal Entry 19 by Herrundmeyer from Heilbronn, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Monday, November 17, 2003
Got this in today's mail. Thanks everyone! TBR ASAP and then off to France!

Journal Entry 20 by Herrundmeyer from Heilbronn, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Great book!

"...in a [...] part of Stephen's mind there was an unconcious link between being an old tramp and being German that made the two beliefs a little more compatible: the germs with which old tramps were presumably covered, and which were presumably so called because they were as evil and insidious as Germans."

I found this pun very amusing, actually.

This is the second book by Frayn that I've read. I've seen "Copenhagen" performed on stage, which is a great play, and read "The Copenhagen Papers" afterwards.

The change in narrative perspectives in this book is very cleverly done, and it helps to understand the thoughts and feelings of the "childhood Stephen".

I'm adding a little spoiler here (mark the blank space with your mouse and you should be able to read it):
Being a German myself, I could immediately understand the words coudle moudle and shnick shnack and was able to foresee the conclusion from early on. Nonetheless a great book!

Journal Entry 21 by boucli from Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées France on Thursday, December 04, 2003
Received it yesterday, it's going on top of my Mt TBR !
Herrundmeyer, I love the way you "invisible-write" ! I'll have a look at it when I'm done with the book !

Journal Entry 22 by boucli from Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées France on Friday, December 19, 2003
Though it took me some time to get into it (but it seems I'm not the only one...), I finally enjoyed reading this book, guessing ahead of Stephen what was really happening. I liked the way it was written, from both the Stephen-child's and the Stephen-adult's point of view...

Thanks for making me discover this author, Robbiesmum !

"Spies" is now on its way to mmz18407 (formerly pinewood21093 !)...

Journal Entry 23 by mmz18407 from Towson, Maryland USA on Thursday, January 01, 2004
Just got this in the mail. I'm starting this as part of my attempt to read a book a day -- I take the bus, one hour a day, too and from work. I'm looking forward to reading this. Thanks and happy new year!

Journal Entry 24 by Robbiesmum from Thirsk, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Monday, March 29, 2004
Hooray! Spies is back home briefly before going on a shorter ring round the UK. Thank you everyone who has taken part so far. I have really enjoyed reading your journals and following my book's journey. it's been to some great places. I greatly appreciate everyone's journals and keeping this bookring going.

Journal Entry 25 by Kleptokitty on Thursday, April 01, 2004
Arrived today, & this is one I'm really looking forward to after receiving Headlong for Christmas from my sister (I've got it on a Ring now hint hint!!)

I've got a couple of Ring books stalling my TBR pile just now, but I'll get to this as soon as I can.

Journal Entry 26 by Kleptokitty on Saturday, April 17, 2004
I wish I'd not allowed this to sit on the shelf for so long before I started it! I read & enjoyed "Headlong" recently, but found it quite heavy and was expecting this to be similar when it was in fact a very easy read.

This is a really enjoyable story, written by an old man looking back upon on the adventures of his childhood self, caught up in a human drama which he doesn't understand.

Would most thoroughly recommend.

I will be getting this off on the next step of it's journey, to Lady-Mondegreen, in Monday's post.

Journal Entry 27 by Lady-Mondegreen from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 21, 2004
I am really looking forward to reading this - it may have to leapfrog some books on my pile ;-)

Journal Entry 28 by Lady-Mondegreen from Basingstoke, Hampshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 11, 2004
This is the first Michael Frayn novel I signed up to receive on a BC Ring but due to the nature of rings it turned out to be the second Michael Frayn book I read. I have not long finished A Landing in the Sun, which I enjoyed immensely so I was interested to see how Spies compared. I was not disappointed. The book enjoys the same slow, measured pace, offering enough interest to keep me wanting to read on, but without feeling the need rush through. It is a beautifully evocative story, cleverly giving voice to both the adult looking back and to his memories from an impressionable childhood, in a totally believable fashion. I cannot say I recognised any of the characters as I grew up in the 1960s-70s and my parents were young adults during the war years and came a totally from a different background. In fact, I have only ever read about characters like Keith’s parents in books and still half-believe them to be caricatures of how typical upper/middle class English people were perceived to be. Did people really call each other ‘Old Bean’ except in films? Still, that is just a small grumble really; I certainly enjoyed the gentle narrative that also conveys fear, excitement and uncertainty. ‘Spies’ is a cracking good story.

Journal Entry 29 by LeighBCD on Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Hello! I received this book in last night's mail (thanks for the extra present, too!). I have a couple of bookray books ahead of me but I will move this to the top of the TBR pile nonetheless. Thanks so much - I will be back!

Journal Entry 30 by LeighBCD on Monday, May 24, 2004
I liked this book a lot although Headlong is still my favourite novel written by Michael Frayn. This book reminded me very much of Atonement for the theme of the two books is very similar, ie. how the actions of naive children can impact on the lives of adults and how those children, when they grow to be adults themselves, have to cope with the consequences of what they did when they were young. I have to be honest and say that of the two books, I enjoyed Atonement more. But this was a wonderfully written book and certain passages leapt from the page.

I am very glad to have been a part of this ray - thanks to Robbiesmum! I am waiting on address details and will send the book on to the next participant shortly.

Journal Entry 31 by LeighBCD at on Thursday, May 27, 2004
Released on Thursday, May 27, 2004 at to loopy1 in Herne, England Controlled Releases.

I hope you enjoy the book!

Journal Entry 32 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Friday, May 28, 2004
The book arrived safely in Kent this morning - and the postman was early, so I don't need to hang around before going shopping!
I'm looking forward to reading this book, thanks for sharing.

Journal Entry 33 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Saturday, June 05, 2004
Like others, I found this book took a while to get into, but once I got into it properly I was hooked! I read it in a couple of days, and found myself really soaking up the atmosphere. There were times when like Stephen I was holding my breath, terrified to turn around!
The memories were very believable, and it was all very well written. This is the first book I've read by this author, and I will be happy to read others.
I found the ending of the book very, very good.
But mostly I felt sorry for Stephen, dragged along by all those around him, desperately trying to do his best.
I did then go back to the beginning though and reread the first few pages, once I understood more of what was going on.
Thanks for sharing this book, it will now be on the way back to its owner.

Journal Entry 34 by Robbiesmum from Thirsk, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, June 10, 2004
Spies is back home and on the bookshelf having a well earned rest. Thank you very much to everyone for contributing to my first worldwide bookring. I have been very pleased with the journals and really enjoyed reading them, following the book's travels round the world.

Journal Entry 35 by BookAid on Monday, April 04, 2005
Kindly donated by Robbiesmum for a special project.

Journal Entry 36 by Robbiesmum at on Monday, April 18, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (4/18/2005 UTC) at



Left in Costa Coffee for Book Aid Project

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