Double Blind

Farrar. Jun. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780374282196. $26.
After some years apart, Olivia and Lucy, two old Oxford friends, are reunited at a turning point in both of their lives. Olivia has a new boyfriend and a book on genetics about to be published. Lucy is returning from the States to take up a job consulting for a wealthy venture capitalist; at the same time, Lucy is experiencing troubling medical symptoms. As science and technology wend their way through this multistranded story from the author of the “Patrick Melrose” novels, the perspective shifts from the two women to numerous other characters. Readers meet Olivia’s beau, Francis, who manages an estate experimenting in “wilding,” an attempt to return native species to their original environment; Hunter, Lucy’s employer, a Bill Gates–like figure who wants Lucy’s help to find “gold-plated” investment opportunities; Olivia’s father, a psychotherapist doing groundbreaking work with patients with schizophrenia; and erratic Sebastian, one of the psychotherapist’s patients.
VERDICT St. Aubyn’s impressive trove of knowledge of wide-ranging topics like artificial intelligence, epigenetics, climate science, and wilding takes nothing away from an entertaining story about love and friendship.
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