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Extended Audio Sample Headlong, by Michael Frayn Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,263 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Frayn Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity in pursuit of one of art’s elusive old masters.

Martin Clay, an easily distracted philosopher, and his scrupulous art-historian wife are invited to dinner by a boorish local landowner to assess the value of three dusty paintings moldering in the freezing breakfast room. But blocking the soot from the chimney is nothing less, Martin believes, than one of the world’s lost treasures, camouflaged by misattribution and the grime of centuries. Thus begins a wild trail of lies and concealments, soaring hopes and sudden panics, as Martin embarks on an obsessive quest to prove his hunch, separate the painting from its owner, and resolve one of the great mysteries of European art.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Rueful and amusing…Frayn is that rare writer who succeeds as both a novelist and a dramatist.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Finely wrought and highly comical…a perfect introduction to a writer who likes to pull the rug out from under your feet while offering you the most seductive of smiles.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Delightful...deadpan hilarious and wonderfully written…as effective a work of historical reconstruction as it is a comedy.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Exceedingly funny, both in event and in intellectual high jinx.”

    Boston Sunday Globe

  • Headlong offers an enthralling and refreshingly grown-up take on the alarming speed with which our morals shift to accommodate our desires, and on the lofty and low ways in which the great art of the past continues to affect us.”


  • “Art historians will rejoice over the subject matter and the intricate descriptions of the paintings and their provenance…[Davidson’s] vocal changes bring forth believable characters with pleasing sounds.”


  • “Davidson’s decidedly British accent helps bring the story alive.”


  • A 1999 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Richard | 2/7/2014

    " A tense plot is inextricably bound up with scholarly research. I'm yet to be disappointed by Michael Frayn's ability to create compelling narratives from diverse subject matter. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Dee | 2/6/2014

    " A farcical novel about art theft. I read it for a book group and did not like it as much as I had hoped I would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Peter Herrmann | 2/6/2014

    " Superb, albeit a challenge. The protagonist is a philosopher - who presumably should know about ethics - doing some very unethical things. His lies and subterfuges lead to some suspenseful (almost too much so) scenes, as well as some very comical ones: his guilt and inexperience in dishonesty causes him to misread situation after situation. He is way out of his depth in self-transformation from academic to criminal. Also, much interesting history: 16th Century politics and art. The present-day characters, while not the kinds of people most of us ordinarily run into, come across as real (both in natural gifts and flaws). A challenge to read because of the slowness and psychological subtleties. As with all good stories, keeps you (or at least me) reading to find out what will happen. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jack | 1/31/2014

    " An amazingly inventive tale - art history, thriller, and medieval life, all wound into one delightful story. "

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