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The Betrayals

"Secrets, struggles and an arcane contest - this 1930s-set mystery is a uniquely piquant literary feast."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

From the author of the divinely dark The Binding and several acclaimed novels for young adults, Bridget Collins’s The Betrayals murmurs with menace and the mystery of the grand jeu, an arcane intellectual game that melds music, maths, poetry and philosophy. The novel’s world - at once familiar and strange - is conjured with crystalline clarity and populated by a cast of distinctly charismatic characters. Set in an unnamed disintegrating European country in the 1930s, the story begins when thirty-two-year-old Leo is removed from his post as Minister for Culture and exiled to his former academy, the exclusive Montverre. Here the nation’s cleverest are schooled in the art of the grand jeu, and here Leo is forced to face tragedy from his past as he forms an unsettling connection with the academy’s new female Magister Ludi. Part homage to Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, this boasts a compellingly jolting plot that will keep readers on their toes, and a delicious dénouement - it’s a delight for lovers of literary conundrums.

Find out more about Bridget Collins in our 'Putting Authors in the Picture' blog!

Joanne Owen

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Reader Reviews

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Richly imagined setting, an elusive game and the intriguing connection between two flawed and brilliantly drawn characters.

Richly imagined setting, an elusive game and the intriguing connection between two flawed and brilliantly drawn characters.

The specific nature of the grand jeu is shrouded in mystery but is a combination of maths and music and whilst I didn’t find the novel entirely compelling given the constant reference to it and my lack of clarity about it I certainly appreciated the ebb and flow in Léo’s relationship with Claire, complete with misunderstandings and suspected betrayals. Both of these flawed characters fascinated me and Bridget Collins’s sensitive and gradual exposure of their vulnerabilities kept me intrigued. As the story slowly reveals that both of these complex characters have built their lives around long-standing lies a momentous and involving denouement sees everything change for both of them..... Read Full Review

Rachel Hall

A wonderful, intricately woven tale that takes you on a journey of emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me think and feel. Wonderful.

The first thing that struck me about this novel was the absolutely beautiful cover. It really makes you want to delve inside and start the journey. This book is so wonderfully written it draws you in from the beginning.
Set in a different country where the politics are a little 1984 and women aren’t allowed the freedoms of men, the story is set in a rural area in a beautiful old building. It is run by the Magisters who teach only men about the most important national game, the grand jeu.
The grand jeu is a belief system, a religion and a way of life almost. The scholars study it, the Magisters teach it, but everyone does their best to create the greatest game they can.
The story is written in both the present and the past and the intricacies of the story are absorbing.... Read Full Review

Amanda O’Dwyer

Plot, setting, characters - all brilliant. Not to be missed.

There are so many brilliant aspects to this novel. The setting is mysterious – an exclusive institution where scholars study a strange, arcane game while in the outside world of the 1930s a sinister repressive party seems to be becoming more powerful. The main characters are cleverly drawn. Leo was once a student and has returned to his old academy after being sacked as a government minister. Claire is the first woman to hold one of the highest offices there. A connection between them is felt and gradually through the story and using flashbacks from Leo’s diary when he was a student secrets are exposed. 

I was completely captivated by the immersive storytelling, by the well-crafted plot with all its twists and by the brilliantly imagined world the author has invented.... Read Full Review

Ann Peet