71 pages 2 hours read

Zadie Smith

The Fraud

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2023

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Parts 1-2

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 1: “Volume 1” - Part 2: “Volume 2”

Part 1, Chapter 1 Summary: “A Very Large Hole”

Content Warning: This section of the guide discusses racism and enslavement, including explicitly racist ideas from the 19th century.

A boy arrives at the house of author William Harrison Ainsworth to help fix a hole in the second floor of the house. Ainsworth’s housekeeper, Eliza Touchet, is disappointed because she requested two men for such a large job.

Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary: “A Late Ainsworth”

Eliza brings the boy up to the library. Joseph speculates that it’s the weight of the books in the library that have created the crater in the library floor.

Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary: “A New Spirit of the Age”

Eliza notices that Ainsworth hasn’t eaten his breakfast. She cleans up after him even though it’s the maid Sarah’s job. Ainsworth seems off, so Eliza checks the newspaper for notice of any friends who have died or become famous. She discovers a package with the book A New Spirit of the Age by R. H. Horne addressed to Ainsworth with an insult about Ainsworth’s work.