Overview - Something has gone wrong with history in this gripping novel about a lie planted among the greatest works of English fiction. Flamboyant, charismatic Matthew Cannonbridge was touched by genius, the most influential creative mind of the 19th century, a prolific novelist, accomplished playwright, the poet of his generation. Read more...
More About Cannonbridge by Jonathan Barnes
Something has gone wrong with history in this gripping novel about a lie planted among the greatest works of English fiction.
Flamboyant, charismatic Matthew Cannonbridge was touched by genius, the most influential creative mind of the 19th century, a prolific novelist, accomplished playwright, the poet of his generation. The only problem is, he should never have existed and beleaguered, provincial, recently-divorced 21st Century don Toby Judd is the only person to realise something has gone wrong with history.
All the world was Cannonbridge's and he possessed, seemingly, the ability to be everywhere at once. Cannonbridge was there that night by Lake Geneva when conversation between Byron, Shelley and Mary Godwin turned to stories of horror and the supernatural. He was sole ally, confidante and friend to the young Dickens as Charles laboured without respite in the blacking factory. He was the only man of standing and renown to regularly visit Oscar Wilde in prison. Tennyson's drinking companion, Kipling's best friend, Robert Louis Stevenson's counsellor and guide - Cannonbridge's extraordinary life and career spanned a century, earning him a richly-deserved place in the English canon.
But as bibliophiles everywhere prepare to toast the bicentenary of the publication of Cannonbridge's most celebrated work, Judd's discovery will lead him on a breakneck chase across the English canon and countryside, to the realisation that the spectre of Matthew Cannonbridge, planted so seamlessly into the heart of the 19th Century, might not be so dead and buried after all...
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in:
- Review Date:
A giddy synthesis of Gothic horror and dystopian satire propels this vividly plotted, cinematic genre-bender. Matthew Cannonbridge was the genius of his age, “the greatest writer of the 19th century, its very spirit, its dark soul.” He was prolific, charismatic, an equal intimate of Mary Shelley and Arthur Conan Doyle... and, according to beleaguered scholar Toby Judd, who lives sometime in our near future, he was a “colossal and outrageous fraud.” When Toby’s career-tanking lecture on the “Cannonbridge Delusion” goes viral, his life plunges into an outlandish escalation of conspiracy: a murdered policeman, a toffee-chewing killer, two secretive sisters, an ex-military waitress, a mysterious island, and the ominous question: “What’s an investment bank’s interest in Victorian literature?” Barnes (The Domino Men) takes the premise of a literary thriller and supercharges it with hints of science fiction and an appropriately Dickensian style, intercutting Toby’s slightly futuristic world with star-studded encounters from Cannonbridge’s past. Only the final twist overreaches in pursuit of unpredictability. Agent: Robert Dinsdale, Imber Literary Agency. (Feb.)