The Fraud: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Smith, Zadie
Subject:  FICTION / Biographical
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Historical / General
  FICTION / Literary
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Published: September 2023
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 464
Size: 9.55in x 6.42in x 1.42in

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story-and about 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. He knows 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 title-captivates 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."

Review Quote*

The Walrus Best Book of Fall 2023

Praise for The Fraud:

"The Fraud is a curious combination of gloriously light, deft writing and strenuous construction. . . . [B]right shards of narrative are shaken into unpredictable combinations across time and place. But the novel's hybridity becomes part of its fascination." 
-The Guardian
"The Fraud is a dazzling novel about how in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what's true can prove a complicated task." 
-The Times 
"Mesmerizing . . . Smith weaves Eliza's shrewd and entertaining recollections of her life, a somber account of Bogle's ancestry and past, brief excerpts from Ainsworth's books, and historic trial transcripts into a seamless and stimulating mix, made all the more lively by her juxtaposing of imagination with first- and secondhand accounts and facts. The result is a triumph of historical fiction."
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Smith, in her most commanding novel to date, dramatizes with all-too relevant insights crucial questions of veracity and mendacity, privilege and tyranny, survival and self, trust and betrayal . . . Smith is always a must-read, and this spectacularly entertaining and resonant historical novel will have enormous appeal."
-Booklist (starred review)

"The cultural and literary life of Victorian England erupts vibrantly from each page of this extraordinary novel . . . Smith wrestles contemporary themes surrounding women's independence, racism, and class disparity from centuries-old events . . . Readers of Geraldine Brooks or Hilary Mantel will be enthralled."
-Library Journal (starred review)
"Zadie Smith pens a pitch-perfect historical novel set in the 19th century, sharp and insightful and utterly delightful, about a woman entwined with a declining novelist, and a real-life trial that centers the timely question of whose story makes it into the history books as fact." 
-USA Today

"The Fraud, her dazzling, and first historically set, new novel that examines a case of uncertain identity and a real-life court battle that gripped Victorian England." 
-Vogue (UK) 

"The Fraud is an intricate tapestry of Victorian life, braided with sex, money, and snobbery, aristocratic judges and bourgeois juries, plantations called Hope, false identities, false relationships, false histories. Smith is at her full power."
-The Walrus

Biographical Note

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; and a short story collection, Grand Union. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. White Teeth won multiple literary awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Guardian First Book Award. On Beauty was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and NW was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Smith is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.