Born into Edwardian England, Amory Clay’s first memory is of her father standing on his head. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, who, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future. A spell at boarding school ends abruptly and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, photographing socialites for the magazine . But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love and artistic expression will take her to the demi monde of Berlin of the late ’20s, to New York of the ’30s, to the blackshirt riots in London, and to France in the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. Her desire for experience will lead Amory to further wars, to lovers, husbands and children as she continues to pursue her dreams and battle her demons.
In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, illustrated with “found” period photographs, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of some of the most defining moments of modern history, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman, Amory Clay. It is his greatest achievement to date.
On the heels of Boyd's Costa (formerly Whitbread) Award winner, , an erudite and entertaining collection of essays and opinions from one of our generation's most talented writers.
"Plant one bamboo shoot-cut bamboo for the rest of your life." William Boyd's prolific, fruitful career is a testament to this old Chinese saying. Boyd penned his first book review in 1978-the proverbial bamboo shoot-and we've been reaping the rewards ever since. Beginning with the Whitbread Award-winning , William Boyd has written consistently artful, intelligent fiction and firmly established himself as an international man of letters. He has done nearly thirty years of research and writing for projects as diverse as a novel about an ecologist studying chimpanzees (), an adapted screenplay about the emotional lives of soldiers (, which he also directed), and a fictional biography of an American painter (). All the while, Boyd has been accruing facts and wisdom-and publishing it in the form of articles, essays, and reviews.
Now available for the first time in the United States, gathers together Boyd's writing on literature, art, the movie business, television, people he has met, places he has visited and autobiographical reflections on his African childhood, his years at boarding school, and the profession of novelist. From Pablo Picasso to the Cannes Film Festival, from Charles Dickens to Catherine Deneuve, from mini-cabs to Cecil Rhodes, this collection is a fascinating and surprisingly revealing companion to the work of one of Britain's leading novelists.
Vienna. 1913. It is a fine day in August when Lysander Rief, a young English actor, walks through the city to his first appointment with the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Bensimon. Sitting in the waiting room he is anxiously pondering the nature of his problem when an extraordinary woman enters. She is clearly in distress, but Lysander is immediately drawn to her strange, hazel eyes and her unusual, intense beauty.
Later the same day they meet again, and a more composed Hettie Bull introduces herself as an artist and sculptor, and invites Lysander to a party hosted by her lover, the famous painter Udo Hoff. Compelled to attend and unable to resist her electric charm, they begin a passionate love affair. Life in Vienna becomes tinged with the frisson of excitement for Lysander. He meets Sigmund Freud in a café, begins to write a journal, enjoys secret trysts with Hettie and appears to have been cured.
London, 1914. War is stirring, and events in Vienna have caught up with Lysander. Unable to live an ordinary life, he is plunged into the dangerous theatre of wartime intelligence — a world of sex, scandal and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code which is threatening Britain’s safety, and use all his skills to keep the murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.
Moving from Vienna to London’s west end, the battlefields of France and hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a feverish and mesmerising journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller and a literary tour de force from the bestselling author of Any Human Heart, Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms.
In this extraordinary novel, William Boyd presents the autobiography of John James Todd, whose uncanny and exhilarating life as one of the most unappreciated geniuses of the twentieth century is equal parts Laurence Stern, Charles Dickens, Robertson Davies, and Saul Bellow, and a hundred percent William Boyd.
From his birth in 1899, Todd was doomed. Emerging from his angst-filled childhood, he rushes into the throes of the twentieth century on the Western Front during the Great War, and quickly changes his role on the battlefield from cannon fodder to cameraman. When he becomes a prisoner of war, he discovers Rousseau's , and dedicates his life to bringing the memoir to the silver screen. Plagued by bad luck and blind ambition, Todd becomes a celebrated London upstart, a Weimar luminary, and finally a disgruntled director of cowboy movies and the eleventh member of the Hollywood Ten. Ambitious and entertaining, Boyd has invented a most irresistible hero.
A thrilling, plot-twisting novel from the author of , a national bestseller and winner of the Costa Novel of the Year Award.
It is May in Chelsea, London. The glittering river is unusually high on an otherwise ordinary afternoon. Adam Kindred, a young climatologist in town for a job interview, ambles along the Embankment, admiring the view. He is pleasantly surprised to come across a little Italian bistro down a leafy side street. During his meal he strikes up a conversation with a solitary diner at the next table, who leaves soon afterwards. With horrifying speed, this chance encounter leads to a series of malign accidents through which Adam will lose everything — home, family, friends, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, mobile phone — never to get them back.
A heart-in-mouth conspiracy novel about the fragility of social identity, the corruption at the heart of big business and the secrets that lie hidden in the filthy underbelly of the everyday city.
Sharply observed and brilliantly plotted, is an uproarious portrait of culture clash deep in the heart of the American South, by one of contemporary literature’s most imaginative novelists.
A recent transfer to Manhattan has inspired art assessor Henderson Dores to shed his British reserve and aspire to the impulsive and breezy nature of Americans. But when Loomis Gage, an eccentric millionaire, invites him to appraise his small collection of Impressionist paintings, Dores's plans quite literally go south. Stranded at a remote mansion in the Georgia countryside, Dores is received by the bizarre Gage family with Anglophobic slurs, nausea-inducing food, ludicrous death threats, and a menacing face off with competing art dealers. By the time he manages to sneak back to New York City — sporting only a cardboard box — Henderson Dores realizes he is fast on the way to becoming a naturalized citizen.
This new collection of eleven stories by the author of The Blue Afternoon takes readers back in time from a contemporary Hollywood film shoot to World War I in Vienna, introducing an unforgettable cast of characters. Artful, witty, moving, The Destiny of Nathalie X is a confirmation of Boyd's standing as a master storyteller. 208 pp. Author tour. 15,000 print. "From the Hardcover edition."
Wiliam Boyd, winner of the Whitbread and Somerset Maugham Awards, introduces unlikely heroes desperate to redeem their unsatisfying lives.
From California poolsides to the battlegrounds of Vietnam, here is a world populated by weary souls who turn to fantasy as their sole escape from life's inequities. Stranded in an African hotel during a coup, an oafish Englishman impresses a young stewardess with stories of an enchanted life completely at odds with his sordid existence in "The Coup." In the title story, an arrogant, sadistic American pilot in Vietnam underestimaets the power of revenge when he relentlessly persecutes a member of his maintenance crew. With droll humor and rare compassion, Boyd's enthralling stories remind us of his stature as one of contemporary fiction's finest storytellers.
Boyd's excruciatingly funny first novel presents an unforgettable anti-hero and a vision of Africa seldom seen. British diplomat Morgan Leafy bumbles heavily through his job in Kinjanja. When he finds himself blackmailed, diagnosed with a venereal disease, and confounded with a dead body, he realizes very little is going according to plan.
"Rich in character and incident, fulfills the ambition of the historical novel at its best."
Booker Prize Finalist
"Boyd has more than fulfilled the bright promise of [his] first novel. . He is capable not only of some very funny satire but also of seriousness and compassion." — Michiko Kakutani,
1914. In a hotel room in German East Africa, American farmer Walter Smith dreams of Theodore Roosevelt. As he sleeps, a railway passenger swats at flies, regretting her decision to return to the Dark Continent-and to her husband. On a faraway English riverbank, a jealous Felix Cobb watches his brother swim, and curses his sister-in-law-to-be. And in the background of the world's daily chatter: rumors of an Anglo-German conflict, the likes of which no one has ever seen.
In , William Boyd brilliantly evokes the private dramas of a generation upswept by the winds of war. After his German neighbor burns his crops-with an apology and a smile-Walter Smith takes up arms on behalf of Great Britain. And when Felix's brother marches off to defend British East Africa, he pursues, against his better judgment, a forbidden love affair. As the sons of the world match wits and weapons on a continent thousands of miles from home, desperation makes bedfellows of enemies and traitors of friends and family. By turns comic and quietly wise, deftly renders lives capsized by violence, chance, and the irrepressible human capacity for love.
"Funny, assured, and cleanly, expansively told, a seriocomic romp. Boyd gives us studies of people caught in the side pockets of calamity and dramatizes their plights with humor, detail and grit." —
"Boyd has crafted a quiet, seamless prose in which story and characters flow effortlessly out of a fertile imagination. . The reader emerges deeply moved." — Newsday