Secrecy | Granta

  • Published: 02/01/2014
  • ISBN: 9781847084828
  • 130x20mm
  • 320 pages


Rupert Thomson

Zummo – a 17th-century prodigy and creator of figures so realistic they look as though they might draw breath – has spent his life fleeing his past. Summoned to the Medici court by the Grand Duke, a man of holy devotions and hidden longings, Zummo finds himself in a city riddled with hypocrisy and contradictions, where adulterers are publicly flogged, while within the palace walls members of the court indulge their nefarious pleasures. Commissioned by the Grand Duke to sculpt a life-size Venus from wax, Zummo scours the streets for inspiration. But 1690s Florence is a place of unforeseen dangers and secrets still more devastating than his own, and when a young woman’s body is found on the banks of the Arno, Zummo suspects that the source of vice has its bed in the Medici court. As he proceeds with his creation, he begins to wonder whether this perfect woman will be his salvation or his downfall.

Set in a Florence blighted by corruption and austerity, Secrecy is a tour de force of whispered pleasures and startling revelations. It is a scintillating, breathtaking read from a novelist at the height of his powers.

A novel rich as the past it conjures up, weaving a story as playful and disturbing as the strange wax sculptures that its hero gives life to

Sarah Dunant

This book scores top marks... A superb depiction of a pre-Enlightenment world, shimmering with superstitions, repression, and incomprehension, and a plot that really is masterly... Chillingly brilliant and sinister

A.N. Wilson, Financial Times

In Secrecy all [Thomson's] considerable gifts - for binding an audience tight into his narrative, for rich characterisation, for originality of vision, for delicately intuiting a lost world as well as amply researching it - are exercised in parallel... [He has] a particular poetic gift for laying the exquisite alongside the visceral, [and evokes] Florence's peculiarly sinister magic to perfection

Christobel Kent, Guardian

The Author

Rupert Thomson is the author of eight highly acclaimed novels, Dreams of Leaving, The Five Gates of Hell, Air and Fire, The Insult (one of David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Reads), Soft, The Book of Revelation, Divided Kingdom and Death of a Murderer, which was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Novel Award. His memoir This Party’s Got to Stop was published by Granta Books in 2009. His latest novel is Secrecy published by Granta Books in 2013.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

This Party's Got To Stop

Rupert Thomson

In his first venture into non-fiction, the celebrated novelist Rupert Thomson has produced one of the most extraordinary and unforgettable memoirs of recent years. On a warm, sunny day in July 1964, Thomson returned home from school to discover that his mother had died suddenly while playing tennis. Twenty years later, Thomson and his brothers receive word that their father, who suffered chronic lung damage during the war, has died alone in hospital. In an attempt to come to terms both with their own loss and with their parents’ legacies, the three brothers move back into their father’s house. The time they spend in this decadent, anarchic commune leads to a rift between Thomson and his youngest brother, a rift that will not be addressed for more than two decades. This Party’s Got to Stop works Thomson’s memories into a powerful mosaic that reveals the fragility of family life in graphic and often heartbreaking detail. It is both a love letter to a lost brother and a chronicle of the murderousness and longing that can characterize blood relationships.

Rupert Thomson on

Essays & Memoir | Granta 110

Park Life

Rupert Thomson

‘As the weeks went by, I began to realize that the park had its own unofficial and carefully calibrated infrastructure.’

Essays & Memoir | Granta 110

Brief Encounter

Rupert Thomson

‘The man on the other end told me he was looking for sexual fantasies that were about eleven sentences long.’

Fiction | Granta 110

Call Me By My Proper Name

Rupert Thomson

‘My mother’s brother was christened Cedric, but people always called him Joe.’