Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Headlong by Michael Frayn

Martin and his wife and baby daughter have arrived at their country home so Martin, a philosopher, can work on his book. But, when he visits the neighbors and sees that they have recently purchased some old paintings at a rummage sale, he convinces himself that they have unknowingly purchased the missing work of an old master. Rather than inform the neighbors of this possibility, he plots and connives to get the painting for himself. Avarice takes control of his life. His obsession causes him to neglect his book and aggravate his wife (an actual art historian). To prove his own hypothesis, he delves deeply into the study of the paintings of Pieter Brueghel, a Dutch painter of the sixteenth century. And he undertakes some ridiculous shenanigans (including the promise of an affair with the wife of the art buyer) to acquire the painting. Just when it seems that Martin has successfully acquired the painting, a series of disastrous events bring him crashing (literally) back to reality.  Farcical humor makes this book uproariously funny.