The Untouchable, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


`The Untouchable is an engrossing, exquisitely written and almost bewilderingly smart book . . . It's the fullest book I've read in a very long time, utterly accomplished, thoroughly readable, written by a novelist of vast talent' Richard Ford Victor Maskell has been betrayed.

After the announcement in the Commons and the hasty revelation of his double life of wartime espionage, his disgrace is public, his knighthood revoked, his position as curator of the Queen's pictures terminated.

There are questions to be answered. For whom has he been sacrificed? To what has he sacrificed his life?The Untouchable is beautifully crafted novel inspired by the famous Cambridge Spies by John Banville, the author of the Booker prize-winning The Sea.


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Review by

John Banville's style is sure-footed and careful. This novel is a great achievement but can be a little dry in places. The book is written as a roman à clef, presented from the point of view of the art historian, double agent and homosexual Victor Maskell—a character based on an amalgamation of the life of Cambridge spy Anthony Blunt, as well as on elements from the life of Irish poet Louis MacNeice. The character of Guy Burgess is prominent and easily identifiable, that of Maclean plays a minor role only. Don't read this as your first Banville unless you have a particular interest in the Blunt-Burgess stories.

Review by

This is a terrific reimagining of the life of Anthony Blunt, but although many of the historical events are shared, much of Victor Maskell's life and character is clearly fictional. I found it a bit difficult to get started, but once Maskell's mixture of stylish erudition, humour and ruthlessness became familiar, I found it enjoyable and entertaining - one of Banville's best creations.

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