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The Blue Afternoon Paperback – 27 Oct 2005

63 customer reviews

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The Blue Afternoon
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (27 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140238255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140238259
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,654 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

Review

A perfect-pitch story of love and redemption. The New York Times

About the Author

William Boyd was born in Ghana in 1952. He was brought up there and in Nigeria. He was educated at the universities of Nice, Glasgow and Oxford. He is the author of a number of acclaimed and hugely popular novels and three volumes of short stories, and the recipient of many prizes, including the Whitbread First Novel Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award. He is married and lives in London

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Few authors could successfully create a coherent novel by combining such diverse elements as an early attempt at 'heavier-than-air' flight, a series of murders, a doomed love affair, life in the colonial Philippines, and medical advances at the turn of the century. William Boyd is one of those few who can, and the result is an original, quirky novel.

As with all of his books, the writing is excellent, every phrase hitting the mark, encompassing both tragedy and comedy with equal skill. Boyd's originality means you can never quite predict exactly where the story is going. His characters are simultaneously infuriating and likeable, and always very very real.

My main criticism of the book lies with the sections set in Los Angeles, which I didn't think quite worked. It would have been better to launch straight into the story proper and leave out the cloak and dagger beginning, and use a simpler way to relate the ending. The end of the story also seemed a bit rushed and left too much unanswered.

But overall another great read from William Boyd - not his best, but still better than most other recent novelists!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
This book sucks you in with its detailed melancholy -- a melancholy that crescendos to a most heart-breaking (and yet strangely satisfying) conclusion. Boyd has done it again -- another unique, emotional journey, with translucent craftsmanship that you can only admire as your emotions are toyed with, your preconceptions smashed against various twists and turns, and then totally immersed in a world that you have to believe Boyd knows instinctively -- and from long and deep experience. Who cares if the historical mesh that pulls it all together is invented or completely and utterly factually correct? (Although you believe everything Boyd tells you, of course!) Another masterpiece from the man who appears to have no end to his inventiveness, and no tell-tale style except perfection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Although this is a relatively short book Boyd takes an ambitious sweep from 1930s California back to the Philippines of the 1910s then forward again to Lisbon of 1936. The strongest part of the narrative is the part set in the Philippines - this could almost have been a stand-alone novel.

In Los Angeles Kay Fischer is approached by an elderly man who claims to be her father. But her father died when she was an infant and her mother (now remarried) has told her about him - and he is not this strange man. But Kay is intrigued and is drawn to Salvador Carriscant and sets off with him "to find a killer".

The narrative then becomes Carrascant's story of his life as a doctor in the Philippines under US rule. The vivid descriptions of the steamy atmosphere of life in the tropics are brilliant. The hospital scenes are especially good - and not for the squeamish! Carrascant becomes obsessed with a married American woman and plots ingenious ways in which they can be together. In places the writing was reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The Blue Afternoon is a very bold piece of story telling with some excellent plotting devices and lively characters. However it is not without faults. We have to question Kay's willingness to go with (and finance!) Carrascant on the trip to Europe. And the ending is a bit rushed, leaving a number of loose ends.

Nonetheless a highly enjoyable novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Blue in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWERTOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 May 2012
Format: Paperback
You might not like all of William Boyd's novels, but you can never criticize his work for lacking originality or interesting characters. "The Blue Hour" certainly sits firmly in unusual context(s)--the Philippines 1903, Los Angeles and Lisbon 1936--and boasts some fascinating characters. In the latter category, the principals include a Filipino/Scottish surgeon, an American married woman who is the love of his life, a 30-something daughter who he has never seen and a Filipinp anesthesiologist who aspires to be the first man to fly. There are abundant meaty secondary characters in support of the story.

Largely a tale of passionate but thwarted love, the storyline is intelligent and credible despite the exotic settings and extreme ambitions and actions of its characters. As always with Boyd's books, you find yourself saying, "man, how did he come up with this stuff?" He is truly a fine writer with outsized imagination and creativity.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Douglas TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
Deeply touching
In the Blue Afternoon, William Boyd paints a vivid picture of the Philippines in the early part of the 20th century. And within that picture is a touching love story.
So emersed was I in the Philippines, that when the story 'returned' to 1930's Los Angeles it was like emerging into daylight from a darkened room. It takes some minutes of blinking to reorientate.
There are debates about the storylines and the need for the beginning and end, but none of it bothered me. This is simply a very good story, written about a distant place and time with impossible clarity.
William Boyd is an extremely talented author, and this is as good as he has written.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
It's quite a tall order to name a book as your favourite of all time, but this would have to be a contender for mine. William Boyd's narrative style evokes such a powerfull sense of place and time that the sights, the smells and the emotion seem to draw you into the page. I don't agree with the other reviewers comments that the supporting characters are uninteresting. For me, there was lots of peripheral interest, but the true skill of this story is its central character with whom it's impossible not to empathise, and the way it makes you ache for more long after the last page has been turned. Spellbinding
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