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Publisher's Summary

Born into Edwardian England, Amory's first memory is of her father standing on his head. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, who, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future.

A spell at boarding school ends abruptly, and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, photographing socialites for the magazine Beau Monde. But Amory is hungry for more, and her search for life, love, and artistic expression will take her to the demimonde of Berlin of the late '20s, to New York of the '30s, to the blackshirt riots in London, and to France in the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. Her desire for experience will lead Amory to further wars, to lovers, husbands, and children as she continues to pursue her dreams and battle her demons.

In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of some of the most defining moments of modern history, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman, Amory Clay. It is his greatest achievement to date.

©2015 William Boyd (P)2015 Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"One of the very best prose stylists and storytellers in the English language." (The Atlantic)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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failed to engage my heart

Superb writing, superb narration, yet something elusive is missing. I loved "Any Human Heart" by William Boyd. This novel is written in a similar way, but somehow I really did not care much about Amory Clay. Something, somehow, is missing.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A good book killed by the narrator

What did you like best about Sweet Caress? What did you like least?

I am a huge fan of William Boyd and have enjoyed everything of his that I've previously read or listened to. I really tried to get through this, but the narration was so awful, it was all I could focus on. I have since purchased the book and will read it rather than listen to it.

What other book might you compare Sweet Caress to and why?

I guess you could compare this to Boyd's Any Human Heart.

What didn’t you like about Susan Lyons’s performance?

Everything. The accent throughout sounded put on, certain consonant pronunciations were just bizarre - "wheel" for instance sounded like ooo-eel, it was relentlessly infuriating and distracted from the book itself. To me, it sounded like an elderly woman, slightly drunk, slightly cranky, trying to sound super posh whilst adjusting to a new and probably ill-fitting set of dentures.

Did Sweet Caress inspire you to do anything?

Give up on audiobooks and go back to reading.

Any additional comments?

I like audiobooks because they allow me to do other things whilst listening. Some books are elevated enormously by a great narrator and conversely, great books can be ruined by poor narrators. I always listen to the audio sample before purchasing, and in this case, the sample sounded fine through my PC speakers. But in the more intimate atmosphere of headphones, the narration really was, for me, too much.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Loved everything about this experience!

As a woman and a lover of photography, I was drawn to subject matter.
Narration is always key for me, and Susan Lyons was a delight in delivery and voice quality, and I plan to search her out for future listens.
WW2 is of interest to me, and as a backdrop, along with decades immediately following, this story really resonated with me. At one point protagonist was same age I am now, when she chose to embark on a massive endeavor involving travel & photography, so I felt personally along for the ride - inspiring!
The life and times of Amory Clay will stay with me for a very long time.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • antonio
  • genthod, Switzerland
  • 02-13-16

This is not William Boyd at his best

This is not the first fictional autobiography of W Boyd (Any Human Heart remains one of my favorite books). At the core of these books there the idea is that if a life has been interesting, a series of remembered scenes from that life will tell a compelling story and will allow the readers to navigate as privileged witnesses through key moments of history.
However, Sweet Caress is not up to Boyd’s usual high standards. The characters are weaker than in other books, the psychological problems are very superficially addressed and the historic background comes across as a bit sketchy. Toward the end of the book I grew bored with the main character (Amory Clay) and sort of lost empathy with some of her choices and interest in the story.
Do not get me wrong: not all is bad. The book moves swiftly along with quite a few of bright passages and the light touch and elegant style of Boyd are present. but the higher are your expectations the greater will be your disappointment….

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Doesn't capture the heart

Interesting but not gripping at all; the characters we're not developed enough for the reader to care enough.

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Beautiful , evocative, heartbreaking

I love what the author did to make this book. He assembled anonymous, forgotten photos into a beautiful narrative that reads like an historical bio. It kept me riveted and the narrator was spot-on

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Spellbinding and utterly absorbing.

Was devastated to reach the end!! The voice of the narrator was perfect. It was a fabulous 'read ,' a true 'faction'!! Loved all the detail of place and event.