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Restless Paperback – 2 Jan 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (2 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747586209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747586203
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (274 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Boyd is the author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and a Richard & Judy selection, and most recently, the bestselling Ordinary Thunderstorms.

(Photo credit: Eamonn McCabe)

Product Description


`A hypnotic read, effortlessly accelerating towards a moral
reckoning' -- Jonathan Beckman, Daily Mail

`Boyd is English fiction's master storyteller ... Restless is that
rare thing: a spy thriller from a first-rate narrative intelligence' -- Independent on Sunday

`Boyd is one of our finest storytellers, and he's at his best in
this wonderfully atmospheric espionage thriller' -- Sunday Express

`Fast moving, densely plotted, beautifully observed and probably
one of the best things Boyd has done' -- Esquire

`Heart-stoppingly exciting ... a riveting tale of wartime
derring-do' -- Time Out

Book Description

The Richard & Judy bestseller, the BBC TV series is now available on DVD --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 126 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Although a fan of Boyd's writing, I was quite pleased to see his latest novel, Restless, was something of a departure from his usual storyline centring on a bumbling Englishman plauged with absurd misfortune, usually in some exotic setting. It's always a test of a good writer to see if they can pull off a story in a different genre to their staple area - and Boyd passes the test.

Restless is a spy thriller, with two strong and interesting central characters, fast paced, well plotted, and with a couple of good, original twists. The story is told in alternating first and third person chapters; the first person narrator being Ruth, a single mother in 1970s Britain; the third person narrative telling the story of Eva, a young woman recruited into the murky world of British spying/propaganda in Europe and America during WWII. The lives of the two overlap in modern times as Eva turns out to be Ruth's mother - now living an apparently ordinary life as an English widow - and has decided the time has come to settle some old scores.

Boyd's writing style is always a pleasure to read, and lends itself surprisingly well to this genre. His attention to detail and ability to make the mundane seem interesting, as well as bringing out the absurdities of life, are ideal for creating atmosphere and setting the scene, and it seemed somehow much more plausible than many spy stories.

The idea of combining the war era with peace times isn't entirely original, but it did work quite well here and brought home the story's central point of how spy work changed the mindset of a person forever.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it very gripping - one of those it's difficult to put down. Maybe not a book that would stay with me forever, but certainly a good read whilst it lasts. I would place Boyd up there along with masters like Le Carre, and would look forward to reading anything else he writes in this genre.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mick Read on 2 May 2009
Format: Paperback
It is 1976 and Ruth Gilmartin is a single mother living in Oxford with five-year-old son Jochen and getting by teaching English to foreign students. Sally, her mother, now in her seventies, lives an hour away by car and they see each other regularly at weekends. It is on one such hot summer Saturday that Sally hands her daughter a large file of loose pages to read and, in so doing, introduces Ruth to Eva Delectorskaya, beautiful Eva, multi-lingual Russian émigrée living in Paris in 1939, soon to become a wartime British spy and Ruth's mother.

From here on Boyd skilfully, wonderfully interleaves the unfolding story of Eva Delectorskaya during those war years with the here and now of 1976, as Sally Gilmartin, once again the spy, inveigles her daughter into one last assignment. The use of two time-lapsed stories is seamless, working perfectly to develop the total picture; when reading a chapter of Eva's racy history I found myself itching to get back to Ruth's here and now, and when catching up on Ruth's life and her mother's calculating plan I was desperate to know what happened next with Eva.

Boyd delivers a gripping, grass-roots story of disinformation and subterfuge, more in the vein of Alec Lemas than James Bond, where brain is more important than brawn and only the sharpest minds survive. And Eva Delectorskaya is not only very beautiful but very, very sharp.

Enjoy this book.
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85 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 31 Aug 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed the story and am a fan of Boyd's writing in general.
But the Kindle edition has very low production values. Missing words, the same names spelled different ways in different places, extra hyphens for no apparent reason. And not just the odd instance, but many of them. It's as little as though they have used some poor OCR and failed to proof read properly. I'm not massively picky about such things, but this was so bad it distracted from the book. I wouldn't mind if the Kindle editions were cheaper than the physical book, but at these prices proper quality is a must. Will be complaining direct to Amazon.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By York8500 on 15 Aug 2007
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this novel, although it does not achieve the merit of classic Boyd fiction.

I enjoyed it because it opened my eyes to the lobbying that most likely went on prior to the Americans joining the Second World War effort.

The novel itself was pacey and the title of Restless is perhaps appropriate. The story was good and kept my interest; I finished it within the week.

In summary; good story, well plotted, and the novel of value in reading, but, it loses two stars for the following:

* The surprise is a little obvious early in the novel; better drafting would have concealed this until later in the novel, notwithstanding this, it does not detract much from the story.
* Some characters are not as well developed as I like; a failure when comparing this against `A Good Man in Africa'
* A number of characters do not really add any value to the story, they are simply there, and I am unsure what there purpose was; the lodger and girlfriend being the main two unnecessary additions.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Common Reader TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
The story concerns "Sally Gilmartin", who it rapidly transpires had a previous identity as the Russian Eva Delectorskya. Eva was a spy in the early days of the Second World War, and it is interesting to read about her training and her field of action, first in Paris and later in New York. But the other main character is Eva's daughter Sally, who knew nothing about her mother's previous existence until a chain of events unfolds, dragging her into a 30 year old mystery and its ultimate resolution in the late 1970s. .

I have read most of William Boyd's books, and also am an avid reader of spy novels by the likes of Alan Furst, John Le Carré, Gerald Seymour (and recently C J Samson of Winter in Madrid), and was intrigued to see what Boyd would make of the genre. The result was "good, but ordinary". The story is well-constructed, but can be a little plodding at times, and it is lacking in atmosphere, and characterisation. Because of this it seems somehow unbelievable, almost as though it is a parody of a spy novel (although I don't think this was Boyd's intention). I have never liked novels where the action takes place in two different eras, with the action swapping back and forth between the two with each chapter. This novel relies wholly on this device, and for me, I found it annoying. However, the story develops well through the two different eras, but alas, the denoument is just too unbelievable, and moves into Agatha Christie territory.

Having said all that, many people have evidently enjoyed this book (it is a Richard and Judy's book club choice) and no doubt will achieve a high number of sales to people who are on the whole are unlikely to be disappointed with it. I came to this book with high expectations, but like some of the other reviewers, found it enjoyable, but not quite good enough. We Boyd fans will have to wait until his next offering in order to get our customary fix.
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