Vienna, 1913: Lysander Rief, a young English actor in town seeking psychotherapy for a troubling ailment of a sexual nature, becomes caught up in a feverish affair with a beautiful, enigmatic woman. When she goes to the police to press charges of rape, however, he is stunned, and his few months of passion come to an abrupt end. Only a carefully plotted escape - with the help of two mysterious British diplomats - saves him from trial.
But the frenzied getaway sets off a chain of events that steadily dismantles Lysander's life as he knows it. He returns to a London on the cusp of war, hoping to win back his onetime fiancée and banish from memory his traumatic ordeals abroad, but Vienna haunts him at every turn. The men who helped coordinate his escape recruit him to carry out the brutal murder of a complete stranger. His lover from Vienna shows up nonchalantly at a party, ready to resume their liaison.
Unable to live an ordinary existence, he is plunged into the dangerous theater of wartime intelligence - a world of sex, scandal, and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code that is threatening Britain's safety, and use all his skills to keep this murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.
Moving from Vienna to London's West End, from the battlefields of France to hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a mesmerizing journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller, and a literary tour de force.
©2012 William Boyd (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
You go to William Boyd for a sophisticated British/European mystery-thriller and Boyd delivers again, here, as in Restless. Boyd is interested in motivation and intention, but the plot never bogs down in introspection. This is a classy mystery thriller with insight into British and European life and thought circa World War I.
I have only recently discovered author William Boyd, and am now very much enjoying listening to all of his novels. If you are looking for a novelist who combines masterful plotting with excellent writing skills, you have found him. “Waiting for Sunrise” provides a good example of his work. I do agree with the other reviewers who complained about the ending of “Waiting for Sunrise” “leaving things hanging”: The story does feel a bit unresolved at the end. However, I think that, in defense of Mr. Boyd — and with apologies to spoiler-haters — the seemingly nebulous ending of this story might, in fact, be imputing a concealment maneuver to our protagonist, Lysander Rief: I think that he is concealing his own mother’s culpability for the treason around which this plot develops. See what you think ….
I have another reason for not having given “Waiting for Sunrise” five stars across the board. This reason will probably mean more to women listeners than to men. Early in the story, protagonist Lysander Rief is consulting with a psychoanalyst regarding his problem “of a delicate nature”: anorgasmia (his inability to have orgasms). “Extraordinary!” exclaims the psychoanalyst. “Anorgasmia — You’re the first I’ve seen!” Apparently this psychoanalyst has not had any female clients (although we encounter one in the analyst’s waiting room … hmmm …). Later on in the novel, after Lysander Rief has been “cured,” we get to hear all about his complete satisfaction … but nothing of his partner’s satisfaction. Feminists, beware — this oversight might annoy you. Author Boyd, take notice, for future novels!
Narrator Robert Ian Mackenzie treats us to spot-on characterizations via his superb command of voices and accents. I recommend “Waiting for Sunrise” to all listeners who appreciate historical fiction and realistic thrillers … with the feminist proviso stated above. Squeamish listeners (like me) need not worry: Even though “Waiting for Sunrise” takes place during the First World War, Boyd keeps graphic depictions of that war’s horrors to an absolute minimum, while still providing us with a credible sense of the times.
I find that Boyd's books are especially suitable for listening because he writes the books like someone sitting down and telling you a story. I would have given it 5 stars but I think that he ended it a little abruptly and left some things hanging
I'm a great fan of William Boyd's books. That being said, I'm not a fan of this one. It's one thing for a mysterious book to leave things unanswered. It's another to just have a story that doesn't add up and seems to have contrivances to cover up the loose ends.
It's not a miserable read but for me it is a disappointing one - I look for Boyd to deliver first a first rate read.
I enjoyed the book, but by the end it became perhaps too many variants on the theme.
Clever changes of perspective about the adventures of Odysseus
accent and tone
Couldn't even get halfway through this book that took so long to develop, and with no real character development.
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