"Oh, good," says Frayn, when I tell him this. "I'm glad. It is a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see if you could do farce as a novel. In the theatre the audience is released by the laughter of the people around them. But with a novel you have an audience of only one; no corporate reaction." He pauses. "Of course, at this stage [in my career] self-plagiarism is a terrible danger. I realised recently that Skios is slightly similar to a film I wrote, Clockwise [starring John Cleese]. Though things in Skios go wrong for different reasons. The other difference is that, with a novel, you do need to know what the characters are thinking. You need to know what Oliver Fox thinks he is up to, which is, frankly, not very much."
This is true – though it's the unreliable Fox who sets the dominoes falling when he lands on the Greek island of Skios for a romantic assignation. On seeing a taxi driver holding a sign that reads "Dr Norman Wilfred", Fox decides – who knows why? – to pretend to be him, a move that provides him with the chance to enjoy a little of the Fred Toppler Foundation's hospitality, and to deliver its keynote speech. Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, a lovely young woman called Georgie Evers discovers, to her horror, that the man who has been delivered to her villa is not the gorgeous Oliver Fox but a balding, slightly podgy fellow called Dr Norman Wilfred.
Full story at The Observer