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The New Confessions [Paperback]

William Boyd
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

3 Jun 2010

The New Confessions is a wickedly funny novel by bestselling author William Boyd

'Brilliant ... a Citizen Kane of a novel' Daily Telegraph

The New Confessions is the outrageous, extraordinary, hilarious and heartbreaking autobiography of John James Todd, a Scotsman born in 1899 and one of the great self-appointed (and failed) geniuses of the twentieth century.

'An often magnificent feat of story-telling and panoramic reconstruction ... John James Todd's reminiscences carry us through the ups and downs of a long and lively career that begins in genteel Edinburgh, devastatingly detours out to the Western Front, forks off, after a period of cosy family life in London, to the electric excitements of the Berlin film-world of the Twenties, then moves on to Hollywood ... to ordeal by McCarthyism and eventual escape to Europe' Peter Kemp, Observer.

The New Confessions will be loved by fans of An Ice-cream War and Any Human Heart, as well as readers of Ben Macintyre, Sebastian Faulks, Nick Hornby and Hilary Mantel.

WILLIAM BOYD has received world-wide acclaim for his novels.They are: A Good Man in Africa (1981, winner of the Whitbread Award and theSomerset Maugham Prize) An Ice Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 BookerPrize and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), TheNew Confessions (1987), Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prizeand the James Tait Black Memorial Prize) The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner ofthe 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award and the Los Angeles Times BookAward for Fiction, 1995), Armadillo (1998) and Any Human Heart (2002, winner ofthe Prix Jean Monnet).

He is also the author of a collection of screenplays and amemoir of his schooldays, School Ties (1985); and three collections of shortstories: On the Yankee Station (1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995) andFascination (2004). He also wrote the speculative memoir of his schooldays,School Ties (1985); three collections of short stories: On the Yankee Station(1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995) and Fascination (2004). He alsowrote the speculative memoir Nat Tate: an American Artist -- the publication ofwhich, in the spring of 1998, caused something of a stir on both sides of theAtlantic. A collection of his non-fiction writings, 1978-2004, entitled Bamboo,was published in October 2005. His ninth novel, Restless, was published inSeptember 2006 (Costa Book Award, Novel of the Year 2006) and his tenth novel,Ordinary Thunderstorms, published September 2009. His most recent novel isWaiting For Sunrise which published in February 2011.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (3 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141046910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141046914
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,357 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

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another triumph 13 April 2007
The New Confessions has similarities to Any Human Heart, encompassing as it does a man's life from boyhood through to old age. The main difference is that while Any Human Heart unfolded contemporaneously in the form of a journal or diary, The New Confessions is written retrospectively - an old man looking back on his life, remembering the highs and lows.

The story is as gripping as any of Boyd's novels, largely due to Boyd's immense talent in imbuing the ordinary with rivetting, magnetic fascination. The ordures of public school initiation, the fierceness of first love (or crush), the passions, terrors, obsessions and regrets of any life, are magnified and captured with breath-catching aplomb. Boyd is one of the few writers - Updike, Ishiguro and McEwan also spring to mind- who can make the reader giggle uncontrollably one minute and in the next reel from some gut-wrenchingly vivid drama.

The New Confessions follows John James Todd from his childhood in Edinburgh, under the care of his austere surgeon father and his sharp-witted and idiosyncratic nanny Oonagh , through schooldays and friendship with the mathematical child prodigy Hamish Malahide, to adulthood with all its attendant thwarted dreams, shocking traumas and rich relationships.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
I struggle with some of Boyd's writing - but find the two quasi-autobiographical novels (Any Human Heart and The New Confession) truly outstanding.
They both take you on a rampage across the 20th Century - but whilst based on a similar premise are utterly different.
In this case the lead character is fascinating, flawed and disturbingly like many people you know in his ability to make the wrong decision at each moment of truth.
I am impressed with Boyd's ability to design fictitious lives in such detail - it really makes you feel as if he is a biographer who has researched his subject for years.
Impossible to put down. Truly excellent.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 20th Century Masterpiece 21 Jun 2006
By Drifter
So utterly convincing at times you wonder if it's all true! William Boyd seems equally at home depicting scenes of domestic drudgery or the glamourous life of the artist in pre-war Berlin. Pathos, farce, tragedy it's all here. There are some brilliant passages describing life in the trenches of the First Word War evoking the horror, bordedom, futility and heroism of life on the western front. Equally well written are laugh out loud sections.

The book is written in the style of an autobiography, which gives the tale an added dimension. As you see everything through John James Todd's eyes, it's not long before you realize that although he may be in some ways brilliant, there is also a lot going on that he really dosen't have a clue about.

As you progress throught the book you'll ask yourself, is our hero mad, or a genious? John James Todd lurches from one scene to another with breathtaking style but not always with dazzling results. It's rather like watching Maradonna charge down a football pitch leaving the opposing teams players strewn on the ground behind him, before scoring the perfect goal, only to realize he's put the ball in his own net.

The plot moves along rapidly and you won't want to put the book down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Confessions 3 Aug 2010
This is an memorable evocation of a life, in my opinion the best William Boyd book so far. The characterisation rings true at every turn. John James Todd is a particularly masterful creation; I found myself simultaneously cringing and profoundly empathising with Todd's inability to control his self-destructive impulses. Boyd also creates a great sense of location atmosphere, I particularly enjoyed the Berlin and Hollywood scenes. A must read book!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
The strength of Boyd's imagery is so strong, that it leaves a very deep imprint on the readers mind.
You feel like John James Todd takes you on a journey through the 20th Century - from the horror and darkness of the First World War trenches, to the glamour and grime of Hollywood. The storytelling is superbly paced and peaked - a rollercoaster ride of emotions. But this is only taking the book at face value. The New Confessions is actually a book of a film within a book - with a highly accomplished mirroring of Jean Jacques Rousseau's The Confessions. Boyd has not only succeeded in updating the characters and action from one of the most highly regarded pieces of literature of all time, he has in many ways surpassed it.
I cannot recommend this highly enough - it is not an overstatement to call reading this book a life changing experience. You will not want it to end and will go back again, time and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving and funny tour of the 20th century. 12 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Picaresque is the word I guess - a loose amble through the twentieth century, but at the same time utterly gripping - variously comic, philosophical, moving... for me, it turned me back on to British fiction after a disillusioned separation of several years. When I finished the book, I felt I'd lost a friend....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A phenomenal work ........... gripping, extremely well-written, hard to put down, imaginative and very far reaching.
Published 20 days ago by J. Mosse
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of William Boyd
This is the third or fourth time I have read this book and I still rate it as one of my favourites. William Boyd is an outstanding writer and all his books are well worth reading,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Roger N. Percival
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Accomplished. Well written.
Published 1 month ago by Amg
5.0 out of 5 stars Real! Well, sort of.
After "Any Human Heart" I was expecting this sort of compelling, personal and very realistic storytelling. Read more
Published 2 months ago by enrico de agostini
1.0 out of 5 stars Unlikeable
This seemed to be the story of a horrible man ruining his life on purpose. Didn't enjoy it at all.
Published 3 months ago by CL Wilks
5.0 out of 5 stars Good service
Arrived in good condition and in good time. Not much more you can say about a book, but not much more you need to know either.
Published 3 months ago by Alistair Bunkall
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb read with broad reach across time and place.
A thoroughly enjoyable read which covers two world wars, the film industry from the end of the silent era onwards and locations from UK to mainland Europe to USA over a period from... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dr DM Pierce
3.0 out of 5 stars One for Boyd completists
A beautifully written first-person retrospective of a twentieth century life. John James Todd, a Scot confused about his identity, is shaped by his experience in the First World... Read more
Published 3 months ago by NJL1974
4.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive Reading
I read 'Any Human Heart' recently and I think it is better than this book.

However I did find this story very interesting and a real page turner. Read more
Published 3 months ago by ROY
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The best of all of the William Boyd's books.
I could not put it down.
The story covers such a wide range of topics to make it unforgettable.
Published 3 months ago by Robert Hayne
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