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  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781529112313
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 280
  • RRP: $22.99

The Man in the Red Coat

Britain’s most passionate Francophile takes us on a wonderfully rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi


'A bravura performance, highly entertaining' Evening Standard
The Booker Prize-winning author of The Sense of an Ending takes us on a rich, witty tour of Belle Epoque Paris, via the life story of the pioneering surgeon Samuel Pozzi.

In the summer of 1885, three Frenchmen arrived in London for a few days' shopping. One was a Prince, one was a Count, and the third was a commoner, who four years earlier had been the subject of one of John Singer Sargent's greatest portraits. The commoner was Samuel Pozzi, society doctor, pioneer gynaecologist and free-thinker - a scientific man with a famously complicated private life.

Pozzi's life played out against the backdrop of the Parisian Belle Epoque. The beautiful age of glamour and pleasure more often showed its ugly side: hysterical, narcissistic, decadent and violent, with more parallels to our own age than we might imagine.


  • Published: 3 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781529112313
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 280
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes is the author of thirteen novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and Sunday Times bestsellers The Noise of Time and The Only Story. He has also written three books of short stories, four collections of essays and three books of non-fiction, including the Sunday Times number one bestseller Levels of Life and The Man in the Red Coat, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Duff Cooper Prize. In 2017 he was awarded the Légion d'honneur.

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Praise for The Man in the Red Coat

[The Man in the Red Coat is] top international tittle-tattle… sparkling and very enjoyable.

Sue Prideaux, The Times

This lavish study of society surgeon Samuel de Pozzi invites us into a world of artists, libertines and medical innovation… [it’s] enjoyably obsessive...biographical detective work.

Tim Adams, Observer, Book of the Week

As with his masterpiece, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters (1989), [Barnes’] new book [The Man in the Red Coat] seems different from anything ever written before.

John Carey, Sunday Times

Do not google Samuel Jean Pozzi. If you want to enjoy Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat — and believe me, it’s teeming with delights — stay away from search engines and trust the author to tell the story in his own way… punctuated by the sound of gunshot[this is a] brilliant, defiantly unconventional book.

Adam Begley, Spectator

Barnes shapes...rich material into a compelling tale of collaborations, innovation and excess.

Hannah Shaddock, Radio Times

[In] this beguiling hybrid of a book…[Barnes] knit[s] his patchwork of stories together with all the suturing skill of Dr Pozzi, that fast-fingered virtuoso of the catgut or silver-wire stitch… [A] richly textured portrait of Pozzi and his friends.

Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times

What a deliciously intelligent entertainment this is, couched in a prose of enviable suppleness a master is at work here.

Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph

This elegant, seductive history is a book best read in the spirit of its times. The Man In The Red Coat is less a lesson than a day-dream of France’s golden heyday. Wrap yourself in a Japanese tea gown, languish on a peacock-print sofa and abandon yourself to fin-de-siècle Paris and the ministrations of Doctor Love.

Laura Freeman, Mail on Sunday

Fascinating history, biography and philosophy rolled into one. In The Man in the Red Coat, Barnes is the ideal guide toa delightful amble through La Belle Epoquea riveting dissection of an era.

Martin Chilton, Independent

One of his best books, very handsomely published too… [The Man in the Red Coat is] a bravura performance, highly entertaining.

David Sexton, Evening Standard, Book of the Week

Barnes is an urbane and cultured guide, weaving his commentary on art, literature and philosophy into a fluid narrative while exposing the seams of a society preoccupied with reputation to a deadly degree… This is the story of an era so dizzying and fantastical that it seems like fiction, even in Barnes’ impeccably researched retelling.

Sarah Collins

[Barnes] liberates us from the shallowness of our absorption in the present, and reminds us that we always know less than we think about what we’re doing.

Tessa Hadley, Guardian

Witty, gossipy and erudite, Julian Barnes brilliantly tells the story of an era through the eyes of a man who knew the writers, thinkers, aristocrats and actors of the day.

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

Marvellously rich and thought-provoking.

Noel Malcom, Sunday Telegraph

Barnes is as freewheeling in his painting of a hedonistic period as Pozzi was free-thinking - and presents it as a mirror to our own "hysterical" age.


The Belle Époque is brought to life through three colourful lives in this sparkling account stuffed with top fin-de-siècle tittle-tattle.

Robbie Millen and James Marriott, The Times *The Best Books of 2019*

Julian Barnes’s wonderful The Man in the Red Coat surges round Belle Epoque Paris… a story full of digressions, white peacocks, missing limbs, amusing adverbs and fantastic clothes. An absolute tonic for grey winter days.

Claire Harman, Evening Standard *Books of the Year*

[A] richly illustrated, witty and detailed tour d’horizon of the belle époque period… Julian Barnes conveys all the joie de vivre and the decadence of the period as well as the rich array of intellectual and artistic life shared between France and Britain… a book that should fascinate many a Francophile.

Euan Cameron, Tablet

Timely stuff.

Dan Brotzel, UK Press Syndication

An intricate biographical essay.

Ruth Scurr, Times Literary Supplement

[A] richly entertaining study.

Metro, *Books of the Year*

A masterful portrayal of the Belle Epoque.

Lady, *Books of the Year*

Witty, surprising and deeply researched, the new book from Julian Barnes illuminates the fruitful and longstanding exchange of ideas between Britain and France, and makes a compelling case for keeping that exchange alive.

Kensington & Chelsea Today

A personal meditation on the belle époque… The Man in the Red Coat is one long, meandering essay in Montaigne mode.

William Doyle, Times Literary Supplement

Belle-Epoque Paris comes alive in this biography of a pioneering French doctor, Samuel Jean Pozzi... Barnes, the author of The Sense of an Ending, sketches his subject's life in fascinating detail, including entanglements with Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Sarah Bernhardt.

Joumana Khatib, New York Times

I was enchanted by Julian Barnes’s splendid tour d’horizon of belle époque society, of its art and literature. His book (The Man in the Red Coat) brought back memories of authors read long ago and and opened up promises of paths yet to be explored.

Roger Clark, Times Literary Supplement

The book is at once a biography of Pozzi in the context of his time and a picture of the time as refracted by Pozzi. Barnes constructs it as a kind of mosaic.

Luc Sante, London Review of Books

Elegant and resonant.

Simon Callow, Daily Telegraph

I’ve just started Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat, and I am already hooked.

Peta Leith

A tour de force… Dr Pozzi may not be remembered in medical history but his legacy is an artwork of himself in his prime that has transcended time.

Nigel Masters, BJGP

Steeped in the luxury and scandal of Belle Epoque Paris and London, Barnes resurrects the charming, philandering Pozzi.

Connie Sjödin, Royal Academy Magazine *10 novels about art you won't put down*