A social history of Britain through its literature by bestselling novelist Sebastian Faulks - published to coincide with his landmark series on BBC2
The British invented the novel, with the publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 marking the arrival of a revolutionary and distinctly modern form of art. But it's also true, as Sebastian Faulks argues in this remarkable book, that the novel helped invent the British: for the first time we had stories that reflected the experiences of ordinary people, with characters in which we could find our reality, our understanding and our escape.
In The Secret Life of the English Novel, Faulks examines many of these enduring fictional characters from over the centuries – Heroes from Tom Jones to John Self, Lovers from Mr Darcy to Lady Chatterly, Villains from Fagin to Barbara Covett, and Snobs from Emma Woodhouse to James Bond – and shows us how they mapped and inspired the British psyche, and continue to do so.
Published to coincide with a major BBC series, The Secret Life of the English Novel is an engaging and opinionated look at the psychology of the British through their literature, and a unique social history of Britain from one of our most respected writers.
“Faulks on Fiction is not intended as a formal history of the British novel, but it is much more worthwhile and enjoyable than any history of the novel I have read.”
John Carey, The Sunday Times
“Faulks on Fiction is a fine reminder of why you love the characters you do; and it will serve as an introduction to new friends, too”
Erica Wagner, The Times
“ Faulks on Fiction revels in the creation of vital, unruly characters”
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
“Full of personal anecdotes and warm-blooded opinions.”
Sam Leith, The Spectator