"De Potter's Grand Tour" by Joanna Scott [Weekend Reading]
Usually, I try and feature a work of translation as part of the “weekend reading” series, but I’m making an exception this week in order to highlight Joanna Scott’s new novel, which just came out this week.
Aside from being an outstanding novelist and short story writer (Arrogance and The Manikin are particularly worth reading), Joanna is one of the most beloved English professors here at the University of Rochester and has served on Open Letter’s Executive Committee from day one.
Even if I didn’t know her personally—and hadn’t worked with her daughter a couple summers ago—I would still be really excited about De Potter’s Grand Tour. Here’s a bit from the FSG website:
In 1905, a tourist agent and amateur antiques collector named Armand de Potter mysteriously disappeared off the coast of Greece. His body is never recovered and his wife is left to manage his affairs on her own. But as she starts to piece together his life, she realizes that everything was not as he had said. Infused with details from letters and diary entries, the narrative twists forward and backward through time, revealing a lost world of fake identities, underground antiques networks, and a husband who wasn’t what he seemed. [. . .]
Told with masterful narrative agility, De Potter’s Grand Tour is a tale as grand as the tour guide at its center. Drawing on real letters, legal documents, and a trove of diaries only recently discovered, Joanna Scott points delicately toward the story’s historical basis and unfolds a detective tale of the highest order.
Given Joanna’s literary sensibilities and intimidating intelligence, I think this is going to be pretty amazing. My copy is supposed to be available today, and with a weekend of 90 degree temperatures, it seems like the perfect way to end the summer is sitting on the beach with this book.
A couple months back FSG featured De Potter’s Grand Tour in their weekly “Work in Progress” newsletter. So if you’re interested, you can read the first chapter here.