The Wildes

A Novel in Five Acts
by Louis Bayard

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From the bestselling author of The Pale Blue Eye, Louis Bayard, comes Atonement meets The Paris Wife, a brilliantly original, profoundly empathetic story about Oscar Wilde's wife Constance and their two sons in the aftermath of the famous playwright's imprisonment for homosexuality, told against the backdrop of Victorian England and World War...
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Published By Algonquin Books

Format Hardback

Number Of Pages 304

Publication Date 09/17/2024

ISBN 9781643755304

Dimensions 6 inches x 9 inches


"What was lost to history Louis Bayard has brilliantly brought to life: the wit, charm, tragedy and tenderness of Wilde's family. Wonderfully researched, beautifully crafted, movingly told, The Wildes is a treasure to read."

— Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less and Less Is Lost

“In this witty, poignant, and richly imagined ‘novel in five acts,’ Louis Bayard takes us past the sordid scandal of Oscar Wilde and his nemesis-lover Bosie, the misbegotten libel trial that brought about Wilde’s ruin, and an aftermath of ‘dazzling martyrdom’ in repressive Victorian England, to focus instead on Wilde’s wife Constance and their sons Vyvyan and Cyril. The Wildes is a boldly audacious re-visioning of the martyrdom of Oscar Wilde, one which would have astonished Wilde himself.”

— Joyce Carol Oates, award-winning poet and novelist

"It requires a novelist of great audacity to dare to attempt to bring Oscar Wilde back to life, and it requires a novelist of great skill, to say nothing of wit, to manage the feat persuasively. Happily, Louis Bayard is both of those novelists. As if that were not enough, The Wildes also presents us with a portrait of Oscar's wife, Constance, that is little short of breathtaking in its vibrant depth, and a recounting of the heartbreaking tragedy of the Wildes that is eloquent and fully compassionate to all its characters, certainly to the Wildes' sons, Cyril and Vyvyan, and even to (almost astonishingly) that feckless instrument of destruction Lord Alfred Douglas. I read The Wildes in an improbable state of breathless suspense, so wonderfully well has Bayard presented us with real people pressing, often excruciatingly, toward fateful decisions. This is an intoxicatingly gorgeous novel."

— Benjamin Dreyer, New York Times bestselling author of Dreyer's English

“Louis Bayard has outdone himself with this brilliant novel. The Wildes combines the best of Bayard’s trademark wit and charm with dialogue so sharp and masterful that Oscar Wilde himself could have written it. It transported me to a different time and made me laugh, gasp, and tear up. Bravo!”

— Angie Kim, New York Times bestselling author of Happiness Falls

"Wide-ranging, sharp-edged, and generous-hearted, Louis Bayard's reimagination of the story of Oscar Wilde brings his wife and sons into the spotlight, rescuing them from their historical position as peripheral characters and inviting us to see them for the first time, and through them, to see Wilde. I was drawn in, deeply entertained, and very moved."

— Mark Harris, New York Times-bestselling author of Mike Nichols: A Life

"Naughty, witty, and scandalous as a Wilde play—Oscar must be blushing in his grave."

— James Hannaham, author of Didn't Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta

“Louis Bayard brings his singular historical imagination to this moving, multifaceted portrait of Oscar Wilde's family. The Wildes is a marvel of tenderness, irony, heartbreak, and reclamation that demonstrates why Bayard is among the most essential—and most entertaining—interrogators of the past.”

— Anthony Marra, author of Mercury Pictures Presents and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

"Sad, funny, moving. The dialogue is so spiky and witty it would have made Oscar Wilde simmer with jealousy. Many of us know how Oscar’s and his family’s lives turn out, but such is the magic of Louis Bayard’s writing that we read on, hoping against hope that this time, their fates will be less tragic. An extremely enjoyable and rewarding read."

— Tan Twan Eng, Booker-nominated author of The House of Doors