As every schoolboy knows, you can fit the whole of England on the Isle of Wight. In Julian Barnes's new novel, the grotesque, visionary tycoon Sir Jack Pitman takes the saying literally and does exactly that.
Starting from the premise that most tourists are interested only in the top attractions and are as satisfied with a replica as with the real thing, he constructs on the island 'The Project', a vast heritage centre containing everything "English", from Buck House to Stonehenge, from Manchester United to the White Cliffs of Dover.
The project is monstrous, risky and vastly successful. Indeed it gradually begins to rival "Old" England and threatens to supersede it.
Ferociously funny, unsparing in its attack, this novel is a book about England, about the idea of England - and about the search for authenticity and truth amid the fabulation and bogusness that is "England".