Any Human Heart (Penguin Essentials)

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9780141047560: Any Human Heart (Penguin Essentials)

Logan Mountstuart's long life is both ordinary and extraordinary. A writer, a spy and later an art dealer, Logan mixes with the men and women who shaped the twentieth century. But he's also a son, a husband and a lover, and he makes the same mistakes we all do in his search for happiness. William Boyd's bestselling novel, a rich, intriguing and entertaining account of a life lived to the full, comes to the tv screen in a major new series scripted by the author himself.

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Review:

Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, writer, was born in 1906, and died of a heart attack on October 5, 1991, aged 85. William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart is his disjointed autobiography, a massive tome chronicling "my personal rollercoaster"--or rather, "not so much a rollercoaster", but a yo-yo, "a jerking spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child." From his early childhood in Montevideo, son of an English corned beef executive and his Uraguayan secretary, through his years at a Norfolk public school and Oxford, Mountstuart traces his haphazard development as a writer. Early and easy success is succeeded by a long half-century of mediocrity, disappointments and setbacks, both personal and professional, leading him to multiple failed marriages, internment, alcoholism and abject poverty.

Mountstuart's sorry tale is also the story of a British way of life in inexorable decline, as his journey takes in the Bloomsbury set, the General Strike, the Spanish Civil War, 1930s Americans in Paris, wartime espionage, New York avant garde art, even the Baader-Meinhof gang--all with a stellar supporting cast. The most sustained and best moment comes mid-book, as Mountstuart gets caught up in one of Britain's murkier wartime secrets, in the company of the here truly despicable Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Elsewhere author William Boyd occasionally misplaces his tongue too obviously in his cheek--the Wall Street Crash is trailed with truly crashing inelegance--but overall Any Human Heart is a witty, inventive and ultimately moving novel. Boyd succeeds in conjuring not only a compelling 20th century but also, in the hapless Logan Mountstuart, an anti-hero who achieves something approaching passive greatness. --Alan Stewart, Amazon.co.uk

From the Back Cover:

Praise from England for Any Human Heart

"A work of astonishing ventriloquistic virtuosity . . . A brilliant evocation of a past era . . . One finds oneself almost reading the journals as genuine . . . which is quite a feat, because Boyd has skillfully mimicked the artless and random qualities of every diary."
- Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph

"A book full of delights . . . No one is better than William Boyd at drawing the reader into [a] tale from the very first sentence."
- Erica Wagner, The Times

"An excellent picaresque novel, written in a confident, easy-going style . . . Any Human Heart is an old-fashioned, new-fangled tour de force which maintains its brio to the very end. An obvious contender for the next round of literary prizes, it would be considered a worthy and genuinely popular winner of any one of them."
- Anita Brookner, The Spectator

"Boyd's terrific powers of storytelling are given free rein here: this is a biography where you don't know the ending, and he keeps you glued and guessing . . . One of Boyd's most enjoyable novels to date: generous, witty and sneakily profound."
- Catherine Shoard, Evening Standard

"Compelling . . . An addictively enjoyable read as well as a testament to the endurance of the human heart."
- Geordie Grieg, Literary Review

"Astounding. . .The most sincere measure of praise one can attach to William Boyd's new novel is that it ranks alongside The New Confessions as one of his great achievements . . . It also resembles the earlier book in its ambition and spirit, being an account of tumultuous tragicomic life that lasts from one end of the twentieth century to the other. To pull off that trick once is considerable: to do it twice is astounding."
– Anthony Quinn, The Mail on Sunday

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