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Double Blind  By  cover art

Double Blind

By: Edward St Aubyn
Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

From the author of the internationally acclaimed Patrick Melrose books: a major new novel exploring some of the biggest ideas and most pressing questions of our times. 

Double Blind follows three close friends and their circle through a year of extraordinary transformation. Set between London, Cap d'Antibes, Big Sur and a re-wilded corner of Sussex, this thrilling, ambitious novel is as compelling about ecology, psychoanalysis, genetics and neuroscience as it is about love, fear and courage.

When Olivia meets a new lover, Francis, just as she is welcoming her dearest friend, Lucy, back from New York, her life expands precipitously. Her connection to Francis, a committed naturalist living off-grid, is immediate and startling. Eager to involve Lucy in her joy, Olivia introduces the two - but Lucy has 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, Double Blind investigates themes of inheritance, determinism, freedom, consciousness and the stories we tell about ourselves. 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.

©2021 Edward St Aubyn (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The experience of St Aubyn is indelible." (Jonathan Franzen)

"A joy." (Zadie Smith)

"Among the giants of English fiction." (Edmund White)

What listeners say about Double Blind

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  • London book lover
  • 05-21-21

Sublime

Stunning prose and a captivating plot. A thoroughly good read with loads of interesting ideas. Could not recommend it more highly!

3 people found this helpful

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  • S. Brearley
  • 02-27-22

Turgid prose and no plot

The only good thing about this audiobook is the narration, which is faultless. The book itself has no discernable plot and the story ends abruptly with no resolution. It seems to be a vehicle for the author to pontificate at length about various “issues” - rewilding, mental health, Silicon Valley millionaires - on which he has opinions. The characters are either indistinguishable from each other or cartoon stereotypes. Avoid unless you love Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice so much that you’d listen to him reading from a paint catalogue.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah Brown
  • 12-01-21

Gripping narration

Thought provoking themes exploring a range of ethics including modern science, mental health, elite wealth and personal relationships. Narrative threads cleverly woven together but its main impact really comes from the extraordinary narration which breathes such life into the characters. The consummate skill of the narrator in being able to switch deftly between characters and accents makes it a privilege to listen to. Thank you.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-27-21

Underwhelming

The story felt a little bit aimless, and although the ending had some satisfying conclusions I don’t know what happened to half the characters. The dialogue was a bit laboured in places.
The narration was the best bit for me- great characterisation of a diverse range of players.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-21

Funny, eloquent and well researched

I’m so happy to have enjoyed this novel! I held back buying it the first time I saw it in a shop as the reviews online were nice to Luke warm. Turns out it is a clever and very well written book with lovely (an less so) characters that speak in such a varied manner that I feel twice as happy having had Benedict Cumberbatch interpret them with such talent much superior to what my own imaginative laziness would have allowed. This, very recommended!

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  • JacquesBB
  • 06-17-21

needs closure....

loved the story, humour and scientific expositions but the ending was disappointing. the characters needed to be developed with some form of closure. BC narration was excellent especially the different voices! really enjoyed it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-30-21

Interesting story and good narration

Like the humour, like the science, so like the story. Narration is what you can expect from BC

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  • Diana Brighouse
  • 02-22-22

Narcissistic self conscious writing display

I had not read St Aubyn before, and will not be reading his Melrose novels, which are avowedly semi-autobiographical. Double Blind is a product of the author's Westminster & Oxford education and his upper class upbringing. The author revels in extended detail of epigenetics, neurology & neurosurgery, and psychoanalysis. As a doctor and psychotherapist myself I found his writing distinctly self indulgent and exasperating. Neither medicine practiced in London nor three times a week psychoanalysis are representative of the rest of the country.
Cumberbatch's narration is flawless, but in some ways also irritating since he comes from a similar educational background to the author. Having bought the audiobook I was determined to hear it out. I choose my audiobooks to accompany me on my 7 mile daily walk and often add an extra mile to keep listening. There was no danger of me doing this with Double Blind.

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  • Fitz
  • 09-29-21

A barnstorming start but ultimately disappointing

St. Auben's vivid descriptive powers and sharp put-downs invite comparison with Evelyn Waugh. His largely autobographical Patrick Melrose novels are wonderful, as is the excellent BBC adaptation (starring Benedict Cumberbatch).

I'm afraid this novel falls short of that standard. It is full of great asides, sharp observation, some very cogent musings on the nature of consciousness, science, the high-tech corporate world and, well, nature, but ultimately doesn't seem to know what to do with all the ideas milling around it. After establishing several interesting protagonists (and one or two antagonists) and setting up several potential dramatic conflicts, there is no resolution or indeed epiphany for any of the characters.

(I also feel I must call out the author's 2-dimensional presentation of a couple of secondary figures, both clerics. One is an unworldly Franciscan and the other a scheming Jesuit cardinal. I have to wonder if St Aubyn has ever met an actual Franciscan or Jesuit as his portraits would seem to owe a more to outdated cliché than to actual experience and are seriously off-key in both cases.)

Be that as it may, I found the end result of all the verbal fireworks to be sadly disappointing.

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  • Aquilina Christophorus
  • 08-01-21

A brilliant, recognisible St.Aubyn

There is a Melrose in there somewhere (maybe thanks to the perfect fit Cumberbatch) but new is the complex hyperbolic language. A treat.