Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart's - lived from the beginning to the end of the 20th century - contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in '60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full - and a journey deep into a very human heart.
©2002 William Boyd (P)2011 W F Howes Ltd
The story is just wonderful, the writing is terrific, the characters are rich.
Forrest Gump, in that real characters interact with the protagonist. But this is an English book, through and through.
I am a very fussy listener, and I'd give this narration 3 out of 5. Perhaps a younger narrator would have been better for the earlier part of the book.
Logan Mountstuart, the lead. He's funny, smart, complex and flawed - just as a good lead character should be.
This is such a satisfying read, and for me, a great introduction to a writer who is now on my "must read" list. I can't recommend it highly enough. And once you've read it, take a look at the glorious TV series of the same name starring Matthew McFadyen and Jim Broadbent. I'm sure I'll revisit both the book and the show over the coming years, they're that good.
"A poignant journey through a man's life"
When I finished listening to this book I felt as if I'd accompanied Logan Mountstuart through his life with all his hopes and disappointments. It's a mixture of the very personal feelings of the man played against the backdrop of world events into which he gets drawn. Logan seems very real, very human and even though he sometimes behaves badly he remains a sympathetic character, who has an extraordinary eventful life with many ups and downs, sadness and happiness, success and failure.
It's long book but I didn't want it to end. The reader is excellent.
This book was a joy. Following the story of Logan Mountstuart from schooldays through to the end of his days, this book was warm, amusing and sad by turns. Logan's life covers most of the 20th century and we see major world events through his eyes. Beautifully written by Mr. Boyd and expertly narrated by Mike Grady, Mountstuart's life is explored through his journals and for the first time, I really forgot the book was being narrated and just believed that Mike Grady was Logan Mountstuart. The story of a life well lived.
"Wonderful, touching epic."
In some respects yes; it's a diary and having it read to you does work very well. I was slightly irritated by one small mispronunciation which the character would not have made relating to an Oxford college and this unduly rankled but otherwise excellent.
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, it has some similar coming of age, success, regrets, derring do elements albeit with a female protagonist.
Trite and obvious as it sounds, the voice of LMS
LMS's loss and his later descent into poverty
"Condensed human experience"
Beautifully written and narrated. This book really lends itself to the audiobook format; it is an experience to listen, and you feel sorry when the story finishes . Typical Boyd; it immerses the listener into the very individual world of the lead character. There is tenderness, wit, tragedy and fun; just like real life.
I really struggled through this book. I continued for 3/4 because a friend loved it but I hated it. The main character was shallow and bland but not in any sort of well-rounded or intelligent way. I felt like I was stuck in a pathetic male fantasy where first this woman, throws herself at him and then the next, (for no perceptible reason other than it would be pleasant for some to imagine it) the differences between the women being breast shape and skin colour. Then the plot was just a roaming fantasy about bumping into Earnest Heminway and any other famous figure William Boyd has probably ever wondered about. Awful, awful, awful.
"A Beautiful & Bittersweet Life"
This is, quite simply, a masterpiece of storytelling. The protagonist, Logan Mountstuart, is a flawed yet nonetheless likeable individual whose tale, as it encompasses various notable people from the arts and spans the 20th century, is completely compelling. The narration by Mike Grady is also superb.
I really didn't want this to end and have already relistened to so many parts. Ridiculous, I know, but I am mourning the passing of Logan Mountstuart and have relished being taken through his life. The writing and reading are superb and it will be a long time before I discover such a deeply satisfying listen again.
"Fictitious autobiography of a 'preppy' life"
The book is the autobiography of the fictional character, Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, starting with his private schooling, his time studying history at Oxford University and his marginally successful careers as a writer, journalist, translator, spy and art dealer. Through Mountstuart’s experiences, it chronicles many major historical and intellectual movements of the 20th century, including the Spanish civil war, the second world war (initially as a spy to Duke and Duchess in Bahamas and then to report on German activities in Switzerland which resulted in him becoming a POW for 2years), post-war America (as a gallery owner in New York), post war Britain (as an NHS patient), the civil war in North-East Nigeria (as a literature professor) and finally reporting for German leftist revolutionary factions before his heart attack in the early 90’s.
At various junctures in his life Mountstuart meets a number famous real-life characters, not least of all Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Jackson Pollack, Ian Flemming (his spy-recruiter) and, as mentioned earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I enjoyed the episodes featuring actual events and celebrities in which Mountstuart plays a fictitious part which almost made his existence plausible. I even found myself researching how many of these events actually happened eg. Did the Duke and Duchess of Windsor really refuse to go to the Bahamas during WW2 unless their valet was released from active service in order to accompany them?
The protagonist Mountstuart was selfish, sex obsessed and alcohol fuelled man, as such it was hard to sympathise with the tragedies in his life. It is difficult to believe that despite the many humorous incidents (and there were many), the historical events and rich selection of characters, the book didn’t sustain my interest, and each time I stopped listeningI found it harder to work up the enthusiasm to start again. Although this book was not really for me, I can appreciate how well it was researched and written. I would definitely read another book by William Boyd.
Yes. I feel like Ive met some of these people, their types, and I know well some of the locations described...always enjoy connecting that way. Parts of the story even touched on my special interests; art world. I engaged with the piece completley, it is intimate that way. I believed in it and liked the man Logan, laughed aloud countless times and was moved almost to tears more than once. Great escapist entertainment like this is worth a re visit.
I will be looking for something similar.
Thought he was perfect.
I painted my house whilst listening to it, over three days, it was very tempting to listen to the whole thing in one session, but I needed to eek it out.
i loved it wonderful jaunt through british and european history. delightful narrator too excellently read.
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