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The Fraud: A Novel

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From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who deserves to tell their story—and who deserves to be believed

It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper—and cousin by marriage—of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years.

Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.

Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.

The “Tichborne Trial”—wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and titlecaptivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task. . . .

Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of “other people.”

ISBN-13: 9780525558965

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: 09-05-2023

Pages: 464

Product Dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.16(d)

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time, as well as a novella, The Embassy of Cambodia; three collections of essays, Changing My Mind, Feel Free and Intimations; a short story collection, Grand Union; and a stage play, The Wife of Willesden. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. Smith is currently a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.