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
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"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.
"Any Human Heart -worth a listen"
I didn't enjoy this book in the beginning but kept listening & I'm so glad I did. It sad funny warm & excellent but of storytelling, Mike Grady was superb, it was like Logan himself was reading it.
"A fascinating 20th century fictional autobiography"
Any one who has lived through the 20th century and is interested in the politics and movements of this time would find this story compelling listening.
The narrator focuses on his life and his how he has tried to become what he expected of himself and of what was expected of him. He is open and honest to the extent that anyone can be when you review your own life looking at the failures and successes that we all experience in life. It is also a review of the people and movements of the 20th century.
He is able to give voice to the different characters extremely well.
The time in London when he is living in a dingy flat and has to eat dog food to eke out his dwindling finances. It is real and sad compared to where he had been and the life he had been living and yet any one of us could end up there.
After listening to the book, I decided to buy the DVD of the TV version of the story which is compressed and well-acted, but a different experience to the audio book. However, both work extremely well in their medium.
"Gradually absorbed me and got better and better."
This cradle to grave story so absorbed me I listed to it twice. I found the portrayal of the background historical events which the main character's life passes thru as fascinating as the masterly character development. Mike Grady's narration is splendid- a sound alike Jeremy Irons but clearly not.
"A heartfelt story"
A long listen, but very rewarding. The book holds your attention and delivers plenty of ups and downs. Mike Grady's narration is very good.
You get to know and understand LMS better than you might first expect. After 18 hours with him, I shall miss him.
This was the first book by William Boyd I have read and I will definitely be looking for more.
Thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction and that I wasn't listening to someone's genuine memoir. Fascinating, engrossing, sometimes wonderfully funny and poignant, everything you want in the novel. Beautifully read by Mike Grady who somehow managed to age his voice just enough throughout the course of the characters life.
"Can a book be too good?"
I read this after devouring Boyd's latest tome, Sweet Caress. I thought that novel was wonderful but Any Human Heart is just sublime. Logan Mountstuart is a deeply flawed central character with a life story that's thrilling, tender, funny, ridiculous and mundane. The one problem I have with the book is that it makes reading other, lesser writer's material a real drudge. How can you top this? I suppose one should start reading the greats - many of whom are mentioned (or met) by Logan in his memoir. But I've a sneaking suspicion they won't be half as engaging as this.
Excellent narration. Very enjoyable throughout. I'm a bit sad that it's finished!
The book is written as if it is a real memoir although it is completely fictional. It takes us through Logan Mountstewart's life from adolescence to old age.
I really enjoyed the honesty in this book. We are all of us flawed and this book does not try to mask the failings in the character, and I like that.
"A novel full of humanity, humour and honesty"
Written in the form of an occasional diary, this thoroughly enjoyable work recounts the life, loves and feelings of a writer and bon viveur, Logan Mountstuart, born 1906, died 1991. The author himself describes this life as "long, fraught and complex" and, without ever being a page turner, the novel provides a fascinating insight into the experiences, thoughts and feelings of a character who aspires to be a respected writer, while at the same time seeking to indulge at every opportunity his lust for life.
I defy any mature male reader not to identify to some extent with this character, while many women may find it enlightening to read an honest and frank account of the relationship between the sexes recounted from a very male standpoint.
To my mind, a good test of much one has enjoyed a novel is how one feels having finally reached the end. I have to say that I felt quite sad, both at finishing the book and at the thought that the writer had now laid to rest this admittedly very self-absorbed but also very sympathetic character.
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