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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"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.
"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.
I like William Boyd's way with words, and this book, which reads like an autobiography, has stayed with me.
Well, it took me a long time to commit to downloading this-it didn't seem to be very exciting; just simply the story of an ordinary man's life. But the ordinary really is extraordinary here. You can't help but be drawn into every detail, every relationship, every high and low of this man's life. You become so close to LMS that you feel his loss like that of a friend. Great stuff and I look forward to my next William Boyd audiobook.
"I always enjoy William Boyd's writing"
I haven't read the printed version!
Logan Mountstuart, but then he is the protagonist!
Several, but particularly the end of Logan Mountstuart life in France.
The main character changed with experience, as people do
There's a whole series of memorable moments, all very different.
He had a terrific voice for this but there was one serious problem. His French pronunciation - he had a good go at it, but the character was supposed to be an educated, fluent speaker, and there were a few howlers. I suspects there were goofs in German too. The producer should pre-check the text and have native speakers record the foreign-language words so that the Voice knows how, for instance, to pronounce Les Halles or cahier. I'm not just being pedantic. Mis-speaking detracts from the credibility of the whole character; suddenly disbelief intervenes.
The deaths of his wife and his dog.
William Boyd's books are unpredictable and worth listening to.
"A brilliant story"
Fantastic pace for a long and fascinating story with brilliant narration this is one of those rare books that feels like a gift once completed. I couldn't recommend it highly enough.
"most enjoyable story of a life"
A story you feel must be true. A life, if not well lived, then surely thoroughly lived. A wonderful book.
"Outstanding! Thank you Dawn French!"
Laugh and cried to this beauty, moved to write this, which I never have time for.
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