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Two Gentlemen on the Beach


On the face of it, Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin – two icons of the twentieth century – couldn’t be more different. One the statesman whose resolve led a nation in the struggle against Nazi Germany, the other the world-famous comedian behind The Great Dictator. But they are bound by a dark secret: both suffer from depression.

When a chance encounter reveals what they share, an unusual and unlikely friendship ensues. A series of therapeutic meetings across the world, in Germany, England and America, sees each become the other’s confidant as they talk of their ‘black dog days’.

With the eye of a masterfully subtle narrator, Michael Köhlmeier imagines a startling friendship of unique understanding between this extraordinary pair; a friendship of the twentieth century between art and politics, humour and deep seriousness, but which at heart remains an understanding between two men – the poor tramp and the grand statesman – and the illness share.

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