William Boyd - Shastrix Books

William Boyd

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Waiting for Sunrise

Waiting for Sunrise

William Boyd

27th October 2019

Waiting for Sunshine is the fourth novel I’ve read by William Boyd - and although superficially similar, isn’t really anything like the others. It’s the tale of a man in the 1910s who seeks treatment for a medical condition.

I’m not entirely sure I understand what the book is really about - the plot seems fairly chaotic and unstructured and even having finished I’m not sure I really know what happened. It starts seemingly to be a period spy novel, but it never quite develops in that direction, and instead meanders through a number of plots without a clear goal.

The most interesting aspect of the novel is how the narrative is crafted. The book seamlessly weaves between the first and third person - so much so that I didn’t even notice it until several switches in. This is really cleverly done, and demonstrates a masterful command of the pen on Boyd’s part. Perhaps this is why I feel confused - because in some parts of the novel I have access to the mind of the character and some not - and so I feel I lacked insight in some parts of the plot.

I flirted with the idea of abandoning this book halfway, but I’m glad I didn’t - it continued to entertain just enough to keep me going, though I’m afraid I did enjoy the previous novels of the author’s which I have read.

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Restless

Restless

William Boyd

7th July 2018

Restless is my third William Boyd novel, and continues the trend of being a period spy story - this time with two parallel storylines set some 40 years apart, one the daughter in the 1970s, the other her mother in the 1930s and ‘40s. In a surprise revelation, the mother announces she isn’t who her daughter always thought, and piece by piece explains her true backstory.

I really enjoyed the story, though the writing fees denser than much of my usual fare, and thus it felt like I was able to read less per session. The setting is painted in realistic colours of the era, and it’s really easy to get into the heads of the two protagonists.

Boyd’s approach to the storytelling is excellent - I really liked he way he drip feeds information to the reader in a way that feels like it’s part of the plot, rather than feeling like the author is artificially withholding details. I was also impressed by the narration - which despite being written in the third person felt like it was being told by the characters from a first-person perspective, to the extent that I would be surprised on starting a new chapter to find it in third person again.

An excellent story, excellently told. I’m glad I picked up more of Boyd’s novels and expect I will slowly continue my way through his works.

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Solo

Solo

William Boyd

2nd October 2013

William Boyd's entry in the James Bond series is likely to appeal to two groups - fans of Ian Fleming's original literary works about the British secret agent, and fans of the cinematic escapades based on the same character. My immediate feeling was that neither would be satisfied, but actually I found it to be a good Fleming-esque read.

The story is set in 1969, following the original Bond canon and disregarding the many novels written by other 'continuation' authors since then. This felt a much better decision than that of Jeffrey Deaver, the last author to tackle Bond, who rebooted the series into the 21st Century.

Bond, a character quite recognisable to a reader of the Fleming originals, is sent by M to an African country to stop its civil war, and from there things spiral in a complex and unpredictable manner. The plot felt, particularly in the first half, like it was following well the Fleming style, but then Boyd pours on layers of complexity - probably too many - which makes the end of the novel awkward and anticlimactic.

For the most part though I think that Boyd has managed to capture the James Bond spirit without turning it into parody. A Bond novel that I think can appeal to both fans of the literature and cinema adventures.

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Buy book: UK
Ordinary Thunderstorms

Ordinary Thunderstorms

William Boyd

17th August 2013

I spotted this and picked it up cheaply after hearing that William Boyd would be the author of the next James Bond novel, and despite concern that it would be too literary for my tastes actually enjoyed it.

The story follows Adam, who accidentally stumbles across a murder scene and finds himself cast into the role of prime suspect. It's a captivating story that fits the metaphor of the book's title well.

The world Boyd paints is that of London with an excellent and contrasting portrayal of different aspects of life in the city. The characters are varied and rich, and although I most enjoyed the chapters spent with Adam, the other points of view were well fleshed out and really thrust the reader into their world.

One thing that didn't quite flow for me was the passage of time. Whether it's an effect of my reading style or the writing I'm not sure, but the book felt more like a narrative happening over a couple of days, whereas it's clearly meant to be months long.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book, and am now looking forward to Boyd taking on Bond - the opening of this book especially reminded me of Ian Fleming's writing and I think Boyd has been an excellent choice. I'm sure I'll pick up more of his novels in the future too.

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Buy book: UK

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  3. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  4. Ordinary Thunderstorms
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  6. Restless
  7. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  8. Solo