Freud - dying of cancer - has come to London to escape persecution in Austria, bringing with him his famous couch, his collection of tribal totems and his insights into the English. Cared for by his biographer and doctor, Jones, Freud explores the city of Woolf and Eliot, of bankers, fishwives and travelling tradesmen, considering everything in the light of his own desire to find an underlying, rational explanation for irrational behaviour. The city, in turn, asserts its own surrealism, defying explanation, happy to prove one thing and also its opposite. In the background, the nation prepares for its greatest act of rational madness - war. Jonathan Tel's first novel is a small masterpiece: a brilliant and playful insight into Freud and the English; and a beautiful evocation of the period, with its buses and fogs and housewives and men in suits. It is a surrealist Wasteland, a post-modern MRS DALLOWAY.
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