Uncle Rudolf

Paul Bailey

The haunting new novel from Paul Bailey, whose work has been short-listed twice for the Booker prize.

At the age of 70, Andrew Peters suddenly finds himself speaking in the language he has not used since childhood, when he came to live with his doting Uncle Rudolf . Rudolf transformed Andrew’s world. Looking back across the years, Andrew remembers the captivating man who rescued him in 1937 from a likely death in fascist Romania. A sublimely gifted lyric tenor, Rudolf’s talent had exiled him from his native land, leading him to Paris, Vienna and London, where he became a much-loved star in operetta. He turns all his hopes and sardonic humour upon Andrew, and the gauche child from a remote country town becomes what Rudolf wants him to be – an English gentleman.

Vivid, often hilarious stories of Rudolf’s brilliant but blighted career and of his eccentric household are intertwined with the slow unfolding of the secrets that have shadowed Andrew’s otherwise happy life. Told in matchless prose, this deeply moving novel captures a vanished epoch and a way of life with exquisite tact and restraint.

Reviews of Uncle Rudolf

    • ‘An exquisitely composed novel of doubleness, dubeity and prolonged protected silences.’ The Guardian
    • ‘The underlying story is sad – harrowing, indeed – but there is spicy humour here too. Andrew himself is an appealing narrator: honest, troubled, perceptive. It is the clarity of his vision that gives the novel its crisp and satisfying accuracy, and makes it one of Paul Bailey’s best books.’ Independent
    • Praise for Paul Bailey’He has a rare feeling for language and an understanding of character which few can rival.’ Selina Hastings, Daily Telegraph
    • On KITTY AND VIRGIL:’A book the depth and beauty of which it is hard to do justice in the language of criticism and dissection.’ Alex Clark, TLS
    • On OLD SOLDIERS:’Old Soldiers has taken root in my head. It’s a spare, intense, elliptical novel, beautifully and cunningly set in a London which is at once drawn from Dickens and bang up-to-date.’ Jonathan Raban, Sunday Times
    • On GABRIEL’S LAMENT:Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
    • ‘A magnificent novel, moving, eccentric and unforgettable.’ Daily Telegraph
    • On PETER SMART’S CONFESSIONS:Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
    • ‘Rich in characters, situations, jokes and comic repartee. It’s a fiendishly clever and funny book.’ Anthony Thwaite, Observer