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Summary

A BBC Books of 2022 pick.

An exquisite debut novel. A mid-life coming-of-age story charting one man's sexual awakening and his spectacular fall from grace in 1990s London, raising questions about art and beauty, sex and censure.

Ben turns and grins ironically. 'When you stopped just now and looked at the sky, you weren't measuring it. You weren't thinking about classical proportion. You were feeling something.'

Cambridge, 1994. Professor Don Lamb is a revered art historian at the height of his powers, consumed by the book he is writing about the skies of the Venetian master Tiepolo. However, his academic brilliance belies a deep inexperience of life and love.

When an explosive piece of contemporary art is installed on the lawn of his college, it sets in motion Don's abrupt departure from Cambridge to take up a role at a south London museum. There he befriends Ben, a young artist who draws him into the anarchic 1990s British art scene and the nightlife of Soho.

Over the course of one long, hot summer, Don glimpses a liberating new existence. But his epiphany is also a moment of self-reckoning, as his oldest friendship—and his own unexamined past—are revealed to him in a devastating new light. As Don's life unravels, he suffers a fall from grace that that shatters his world into pieces.

©2022 James Cahill (P)2022 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

What listeners say about Tiepolo Blue

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Don’t normally review but………..

Absolute rubbish. Started off dreary, then meandered into utter insipidity. Listened to it all just in case it improved. It didn’t.

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A new classic

LGBTQ + literary fiction is niche to say the least. For some reason there seems to be an absolute dearth of intelligent gay stories. So this, unsurprisingly, is an absolute gem. The writing is sublime, the characterisation spot-on and the story heart wrenching. It works on so many levels, the themes layered like a delicious but ultimately deadly mille feuille. More than anything however, it speaks to the truth that being gay – even as recently as the 1990s – meant subterfuge and sometimes an entire masking of self. To boot, narrator couldn’t be more perfect for the job.

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Depressing

How to rate an unfinished novel? I recognized good penmanship and the narration was great. But the story is so depressing I dislike it. The foreboding feeling when following Don's lonely life, manipulated by a villainous character, was to strong for me. Don is a naive idiot and I don't want to know more about his life after listening 50%. I was waiting for the love interest but am afraid that will end depressing, too.