Double Blind: A Novel (Paperback)
Double Blind follows three close friends and their circle through a year of extraordinary transformation. Set in London, Cap d'Antibes, Big Sur, and a rewilded corner of Sussex, this thrilling, ambitious novel is about the headlong pursuit of knowledge—for the purposes of pleasure, revelation, money, sanity, or survival—and the consequences of fleeing from what we know about others and ourselves.
When Olivia meets a new lover just as she is welcoming her best friend, Lucy, back from New York, her dedicated academic life expands precipitously. Her connection to Francis, a committed naturalist living off the grid, is immediate and startling. Eager to involve Lucy in her joy, Olivia introduces the two—but Lucy has received shocking news of her own that binds the trio unusually close. Over the months that follow, Lucy’s boss, Hunter, Olivia’s psychoanalyst parents, and a young man named Sebastian are pulled into the friends’ orbit, and not one of them will emerge unchanged.
Expansive, playful, and compassionate, Edward St. Aubyn's Double Blind investigates themes of inheritance, determinism, freedom, consciousness, and the stories we tell about ourselves. It is as compelling about ecology, psychoanalysis, genetics, and neuroscience as it is about love, fear, and courage. Most of all, it is a perfect expression of the interconnections it sets out to examine, and a moving evocation of an imagined world that is deeply intelligent, often tender, curious, and very much alive.
“Double Blind is always interesting because St. Aubyn is exacting. He takes all of this book’s topics seriously; he distills them and gives them all a good shake . . . [Ian McEwan] isn’t the only novelist unafraid of serious thinking about technology and science."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"[St. Aubyn] has a way of dealing with heavyweight themes with bantam agility . . . [Double Blind] jabs and dances and dazzles as it manages the neat trick of turning such weighty topics as neuroscience, ecology, psychoanalysis, theology, oncology, and genetics into a sparkling entertainment that challenges as it delights . . . In this devourable novel, St. Aubyn is a wielder of diamond-sharp sentences that cut to the essences of family and love, friendship and rivalry, ambition and mortality.” —Mark Rozzo, Air Mail
"If, as Henry James said, the first duty of the novelist is to be interesting, he would be happy in St. Aubyn’s company. Double Blind is emotionally cogent and intellectually fascinating. There are reflections and conversations here which adroitly evoke those important intersections where science and our urgent contemporary concerns meet. I was gripped by it." —Ian McEwan
“I am incapable of reading Edward St. Aubyn's writing without perpetual gasps of astonishment and admiration at the craft of his sentences . . . How consciousness emerges; what genetics can tell us about our existence; the failure of the utopian hopes of genetics to explain everything as recently as twenty years ago--all of these things are alive in this novel of ideas, along with a deeply felt and moving story of human love and attachment.” —Adam Gopnik, author of A Thousand Small Sanities and Paris to the Moon
"A rollicking tale of love and science in a world increasingly hostile toward both . . . Hectic—but very funny." —Amy Brady, Scientific American
"St. Aubyn expounds on epigenetics, rewilding, art, neuroscience, and philosophy in this sublime character-driven novel. With his usual elegant prose, St. Aubyn follows three friends—Francis, Olivia, and Lucy—through a transformative year . . . St. Aubyn brings off a seemingly effortless and provocative examination of the mind and its refractions. This one’s not to be missed." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[An] elegant, carefully plotted tale . . . More humorous but just as intellectually inclined as Richard Powers . . . St. Aubyn explores human foibles even as he brilliantly takes up headier issues of the human brain in sickness and in health . . . Thought-provoking, [and] smartly told.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Double Blind is a book of big ideas, in which the characters experiment with medicine, psychology, narcotics, religion and meditation to understand themselves and find peace. But as cerebral as the book is, it is also deeply felt, because St Aubyn has been thinking about these issues for decades." —Hadley Freeman, The Guardian
"This is a novel with heart . . . Double Blind is both clever and compassionate, confirming St Aubyn as among the brightest lights of contemporary British literature." —Alex Preston, The Spectator
"Shakespearean in scope and tone, moving from the intimate to the universal within paragraphs and providing tragedy, comedy and human frailty . . . without forgetting the tapestry-like threads of the story itself . . . Brimful of energy, this novel asks big questions—'How could one ever truly enter into another subjectivity?'—without giving us all the answers." —Zoe Apostolides, Prospect
"Likeable and rounded characters and a celebration of the best things in life: the wilderness of Knepp and a touching but complex love story . . . St Aubyn's reinvention as a writer is heroic and astonishing. He has emerged from the 'very difficult truth' of this childhood to write brilliantly about that and, now, about a lot more." —Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times
"There is in Double Blind a compassion that St Aubyn has elsewhere tended to either eschew or keep implicit. Despite the novel's acerbic edge, St Aubyn is attentive to his characters' suffering and vulnerability whatever their privileges . . . St Aubyn's prose is as elegant as anybody familiar with his previous work might expect." —Luke Warde, Irish Independent
"This is the best kind of novel of ideas, as entertaining as it is chewy, not to mention immensely pleasurable on the sentence level." —Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail
"St Aubyn has lost none of his ability to create rounded characters . . . and the witty dialogue is well up to the standard of the Melrose books." —Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph