Dejan Tiago-Stankovic, Christina Pribichevich-Zoric
Mr B's review
Mr B’s Christmas Catalogue Review 2018
This glorious novel mixes fact and fiction with aplomb. In the Portuguese Riviera stands the opulent Palácio Estoril Hotel. During the Second World War, it hosted an illustrious group of spies, soldiers and sympathisers from both sides of the conflict, due to Portugal’s ‘neutral’ status. Into this mix of larger than life characters – one of whom was a real inspiration for James Bond – comes a young Jewish boy, who arrives alone and swears that his parents are coming to meet him…soon.
Set in a luxurious grand hotel just outside Lisbon, at the height of the Second World War, Estoril is a delightful and poignant novel about exile, divided loyalties, fear and survival. The hotel’s guests include spies, fallen kings, refugees from the Balkans, Nazis, American diplomats and stateless Jews. The Portuguese secret police broodingly observe the visitors, terrified that their country’s neutrality will be compromised.
The novel seamlessly fuses the stories of its invented characters with appearances by historical figures like the ex-King Carol of Romania, the great Polish pianist Jan Paderewski, the British agent Ian Fleming, the Russian chess grandmaster Alexander Alekhine and the French writer and flyer Antoine de St Exupery, who forms a poignant friendship with a young Jewish boy living alone in the hotel.
‘Oddly captivating’ Spectator. ‘The stories, most of them true, from Popov’s rigorous debriefings by his German intelligence handler to Alekhine’s terrible death, are extraordinary … [Estoril is] a diverting romp’ The Sunday Times. ‘As soon as I started reading, I knew I had chanced upon something very special. I was completely hooked by a book which is a comedy, a spy story, and a riveting piece of historical investigation that seamlessly integrates these genres … A book that readers will race through but never forget’ Misha Glenny.