Fiction: The Betrayals and three other titles

Fiction: The Betrayals and three other titles

PICK OF THE WEEK The Betrayals Bridget Collins, The Borough Press, $32.99 The standout feature of this book is its eerily convincing world-building. We are in an alternative western Europe, probably France, in the mid-late 1920s and then, in the split chronology, 10 years later. But something called the Party rules the land, and all we learn about it is that it is rigidly authoritarian with a network of spies. It also has a national game called the grand jeu, the Great Game, a profoundly intellectual and interdisciplinary endeavour. Enter the newly disgraced Minister for Culture, an old boy of the school where the grand jeu is taught. But tragedies and secrets from his time as a student begin to pile up and intertwine. This intriguing and demanding novel is open about its massive debt to Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, but there are also echoes of the Gormenghast books, the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games books, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Desmond O’Grady is an expatriate Australian writer whose connection with Italy goes back almost 70 years, and he …
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