The Wildes

A book by Louis Bayard

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 The Wildes  Release Date: September 17, 2024

The Wildes

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 I.

In September of 1892, Oscar Wilde and his family retreated to the idyllic Norfolk countryside for a holiday. His wife, Constance, has every reason to be happy: two beautiful sons, a stellar reputation as an advocate for progressive causes, and a delightfully charming and affectionate husband and father, who is perhaps the most famous man in England.

But as an assortment of houseguests arrive, including an aristocratic young wannabe poet named Lord Alfred Douglas, Constance gradually—and then all at once—comes to see that her husband’s heart is elsewhere and that the growing intensity between the two men threatens the whole foundation of their lives.

The Wildes: A Novel in Five Acts revolves around that fateful summer: what happened, and what might have been. When it was exposed, Oscar’s affair with Lord Alfred Douglas—Bosie, as he was known—led to Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality, and the financial and emotional ruin of his family.

In Act Two, Bayard reveals Constance and their sons, Cyril and Vyvyan, in exile, forced to sell their possessions, leave England, and hide their identities.

Act Three, from the perspective of Cyril, brings readers into the French trenches of World War I, where Cyril must grapple with the kind of man he wants to become, while Act Four reveals Vyvyan in London, years after the war, searching for answers from those who knew his parents. And in a brilliant act of the imagination, Act Five brings the entire cast back together in a surprising, poignant, and tremendously satisfying tableau.

With Louis Bayard’s trademark sparkling dialogue, paired with his deep insight into the lives and longings of all his characters—and based on real events—The Wildes could almost have been created by Oscar Wilde himself: lightly told but with hidden depths, it is an entertaining and dramatic story about the human condition.

Genre:  Historical Fiction 

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