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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"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.
"A jolly good innings"
Wow, this was an amazing journey of one mans life through the twentieth century, featuring many major world events in which he had a part to play.
His life had its ups and downs and he was an unlikeable fellow at times, but I really felt for him and laughed and cried my way through his extraordinary life.
Superb narration from Mike Grady made Logan Mountstuart so real to me, and now I am left grieving with his passing. RIP LMS
"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 have read, watched the mini series but still thought this was the best outing for Logan Mountstuart. A fabulous novel brought to life
"Convincing account of an eventful life"
Sad, nostalgic and intimate with an unusual structure. This is a moving book musing on the chance and tragedies that exist in everyday life. It will stay with you long after you finish it.
"Well worth a look."
Brilliantly narrated. An excellent story. LMS is a difficult character to fathom. Love him or hate him, you can't help but feel his pain, happiness, anger, sadness.
"A very touching life story"
Excellent story - very diverse and captivating. Confidently narrated. At times it felt a little slow, but I always wanted to find out what adventures were still to come.
I have read the book and seen the C4 series a few years ago but the narration makes this version my favourite.
There are many lines that deserve to be quotes in their own right and the story makes you think about your own life and legacy.
LMS of course!
His voice perfectly matched my image of LMS, enhancing the story greatly.
Pedant alert: The only error in the book is the mispronunciation of Caius (Cambridge college) a couple of times, which as any fule kno is 'keys'..
Yes though would be a test of stamina
"the architect of his own life"
The reader has the voice and personality to embody the character
The long and winding journey, taken with such enthusiasm and responsibility
Mike Grady embodied the character
When the tears came on recollecting his wife during the conversation with the Icelanders
"Slow to get into!"
At first I thought I would return this book, I was so disappointed with it, but I persevered and though I never liked the main character, he was somewhat addictive!
The author makes recent history come alive and does not try to make his characters very nice people , but they are always interesting and have a part of their personality that most people can relate to giving a humanity to otherwise rather uncharming people
It is a tribute to the author that he made such an unlikeable main character into a character that I was sad to say goodbye to at the end of the novel. All in all a well written book worth plodding on with !
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