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About the book
  • Published: 5 November 2019
  • ISBN: 9781787332164
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 280
  • RRP: $45.00

The Man in the Red Coat




Britain’s most passionate Francophile takes us on a wonderfully rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi

The Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending takes us on a rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi

In the summer of 1885, three Frenchmen arrived in London for a few days’ shopping. One was a Prince, one was a Count, and the third was a commoner with an Italian name, who four years earlier had been the subject of one of John Singer Sargent’s greatest portraits. The commoner was Samuel Pozzi, society doctor, pioneer gynaecologist and free-thinker – a rational and scientific man with a famously complicated private life.

Pozzi's life played out against the backdrop of the Parisian Belle Epoque. The beautiful age of glamour and pleasure more often showed its ugly side: hysterical, narcissistic, decadent and violent, a time of rampant prejudice and blood-and-soil nativism, with more parallels to our own age than we might imagine.

The Man in the Red Coat is at once a fresh and original portrait of the Belle Epoque – its heroes and villains, its writers, artists and thinkers – and a life of a man ahead of his time. Witty, surprising and deeply researched, the new book from Julian Barnes illuminates the fruitful and longstanding exchange of ideas between Britain and France, and makes a compelling case for keeping that exchange alive.

  • Pub date: 5 November 2019
  • ISBN: 9781787332164
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 280
  • RRP: $45.00

About the Author

Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes is the author of thirteen novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and The Noise of Time. He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life. In 2017 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur.

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Praise for The Man in the Red Coat

“Reading [The Man in the Red Coat] is like re-spooling Andy Warhol... It’s top international tittle-tattle… [but this] sparkling and very enjoyable book has a serious subtext; no borders should be erected that hinder the flow of knowledge and ideas. Art and science are best served if we are free to travel the whole world.”

Sue Prideaux, The Times

“Do not google Samuel Jean Pozzi. If you want to enjoy Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat — and believe me, it’s teeming with delights — stay away from search engines and trust the author to tell the story in his own way… Barnes has great fun introducing us to Pozzi’s sophisticated world, and letting his extravagant cast of dandies, aesthetes, and artists prance across the stage, but he doesn’t neglect the darker side… punctuated by the sound of gunshot…[this is a] brilliant, defiantly unconventional book.”

Adam Begley, Spectator

“One of his best books, very handsomely published too… [The Man in the Red Coat is] a bravura performance, highly entertaining.”

David Sexton, Evening Standard, Book of the Week

“As with his masterpiece, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989), [Barnes’] new book [The Man in the Red Coat] seems different from anything ever written before.”

John Carey, Sunday Times

“The Belle Époque is brought to life through three colourful lives in this sparkling account stuffed with top fin-de-siècle tittle-tattle.”

Robbie Millen and James Marriott, The Times *The Best Books of 2019*

“Fascinating history, biography and philosophy rolled into one. In The Man in the Red Coat, Barnes is the ideal guide to…a delightful amble through La Belle Epoque… a riveting dissection of an era.”

Martin Chilton, Independent

“Julian Barnes’s wonderful The Man in the Red Coat surges round Belle Epoque Paris… a story full of digressions, white peacocks, missing limbs, amusing adverbs and fantastic clothes. An absolute tonic for grey winter days.”

Claire Harman, Evening Standard *Books of the Year*

“What a deliciously intelligent entertainment this is, couched in a prose of enviable suppleness… a master is at work here.”

Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph

“This elegant, seductive history is a book best read in the spirit of its times. The Man In The Red Coat is less a lesson than a day-dream of France’s golden heyday. Wrap yourself in a Japanese tea gown, languish on a peacock-print sofa and abandon yourself to fin-de-siècle Paris and the ministrations of Doctor Love.”

Laura Freeman, Mail on Sunday

“Barnes is an urbane and cultured guide, weaving his commentary on art, literature and philosophy into a fluid narrative while exposing the seams of a society preoccupied with reputation to a deadly degree… This is the story of an era so dizzying and fantastical that it seems like fiction, even in Barnes’ impeccably researched retelling.”

Sarah Collins

“This lavish study of society surgeon Samuel de Pozzi invites us into a world of artists, libertines and medical innovation… [it’s] enjoyably obsessive...biographical detective work.”

Tim Adams, Observer, Book of the Week

“Barnes shapes...rich material into a compelling tale of collaborations, innovation and excess.”

Hannah Shaddock, Radio Times

“Barnes… liberates us from the shallowness of our absorption in the present, and reminds us that we always know less than we think about what we’re doing.”

Tessa Hadley, Guardian

“[In] this beguiling hybrid of a book…[Barnes] knit[s] his patchwork of stories together with all the suturing skill of Dr Pozzi, that fast-fingered virtuoso of the catgut or silver-wire stitch… [A] richly textured portrait of Pozzi and his friends.”

Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times

“Witty, gossipy and erudite, Julian Barnes brilliantly tells the story of an era through the eyes of a man who knew the writers, thinkers, aristocrats and actors of the day.”

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

“[A] marvellously rich and thought-provoking book.”

Noel Malcom, Sunday Telegraph

“Barnes is as freewheeling in his painting of a hedonistic period as Pozzi was free-thinking - and presents it as a mirror to our own "hysterical" age.”

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“[A] richly illustrated, witty and detailed tour d’horizon of the belle époque period… Julian Barnes conveys all the joie de vivre and the decadence of the period as well as the rich array of intellectual and artistic life shared between France and Britain… a book that should fascinate many a Francophile.”

Euan Cameron, Tablet

“Timely stuff.”

Dan Brotzel, UK Press Syndication

“An intricate biographical essay.”

Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement


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