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186 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life less/more ordinary?
I suppose that the measure of a good book is whether you want it to end or not.
I certainly didn't want "Any Human Heart" to end. In fact I was trembling when I read Logan Mountstuart's final diary entry. Now I am mourning the passing of a man I could not possibly have known, existing as he did only in the minds of the author and myself in the two days I...
Published on 19 Sep 2002 by Mr. M. P. Lewin

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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
This was one of those books I felt I ought to have liked a lot more than I actually did. There's nothing exactly wrong with it per se, and I can appreciate why other readers have loved it and rated it highly. William Boyd is one of my favourite authors, which maybe gave me overly high expectations.

'Any Human Heart' is written in diary format - not one of my...
Published on 24 Dec 2007 by BookWorm


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read - classic Boyd, 15 Jun 2002
Reminiscent of the (fabulous) New Confessions in that this a journal spanning the century; not quite as powerful but fascinating details & some powerful emotion make it a damn fine novel.
Rather as Armadillo was a re-visitting of an earlier short story, this parallels New Confessions. I imagined some creative writing assignment "Write a novel in the style of journal, stretching the 20th century with a talented creative hero who misses success, has romantic loss but manages to
pass through the more interesting & eventful cities in their heyday". In NC it was Wiemar Germany & cinema, here it is the art-scene of 30s Paris (Picasso et al) & 50s New York, with Pollock and (in a weirdly self-referential joke - Boyd's famous spoof) Nat Tate.
oddly
Thoroughly enjoyable, genuinely moving and satisfying.
At one stage I worried that the parallels with NC would affect my liking for that (one of my favourite novels), but I ended feeling the pairing suits both books.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly awesome epic and a pleasure..., 10 Jan 2005
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
This book made me want to write books, travel the world, fall in love and abandon fear for the rest of my days...! Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, the half English and half Uruguayan writer of these journals, infuses them with honesty and black humour and documents his life from being a school boy to an old man. This book is about his life, passions and loves; his writing, friends and war and finally his loyalties, weaknesses, losses and fears. Boyd has really outdone himself this time. Logan is a powerful, witty, emotional protagonist who is unashamedly himself in all of the many situations he finds himself . I think Englishmen aspire to be like him. This book moved me, made me laugh and most importantly it made me dream. Tremendous! Thank you William Boyd!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, well worth reading, will touch your soul, 1 Jan 2005
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
"Any Human Heart" is the journalled life of a man called Logan Mountstuart who lives what he calls a 'yo-yo' of a life 'a yo-yo handled by a maladroit child'. You live his life with him, bear his heartaches, his joys, his pain, his loneliness, his laughter. It touched me deeply because it is the story of a life I'd love to lead. Mountstuart becomes like an acquaintance, and you follow his peregrinations from Britain, to the Bahamas, all around Europe and even to Africa like an old friend keeping in touch. It is the type of book you can lose yourself in, and come to, blinking at the world around you. I had to parcel it out in pieces to make myself read it slowly to savor it like a favourite and difficult-to-obtain sweet. Pure literary brilliance. I'd never heard of William Boyd, but now that I know his work, I doubt I will forget him anytime soon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to connect with, 1 Jun 2004
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This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
Maybe as a newcomer to William Boyd - not being familiar with the styles used in his other works - I am overwhelmed by the quality of this book.....
The trip you take with Logan Mount Stuart is a touching , flawed, gripping and tragic one, which ends with you reflecting on life itself.A ripping ride through the 20th century as such, but ultimately it is a song to the human condition - in the end ( to paraphrase the hero ) life in the end is just the sum total of all your good and bad luck, a reflection which for some might undermine tomes of philosophical debate, but ultimately sums up the mad and random equation that is living!
As the book draws to a close you feel you are saying goodbye to someone you knew, and someone who has travelled a road that you yourself are/will be on , at least for some of the time.
Definitely one to savour
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Random brilliance, 7 Feb 2005
By 
ZDDQ140770 - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
Describing this book to others I often have to catch myself: the novel has no plot, little senses of "narrative" and is dominated by one character who accomplishes very little and may not actually be that likeable. Its not even really "about" anything in particular. How on earth can this be any good?
Nevertheless Any Human Heart is a great achievement, the twentieth century retold from the point of view of an eternal outsider, someone always on the fringes of the world. Its the sense of looking in from the edge which i liked the most and i think gave the novel its most valuable insights. The hero, Logan, is half Uruguayian and Roman Catholic never truly successful or wealthy (like 99.99% of all humans) and yet still tries to engage with the main issues of the day. He cavorts in pre-war Paris and revolutionary Spain, partying with Hemingway, Woolf, Waugh, Picasso et al but doesnt succeed in actually doing anything beyond observing the modernists at play. He writes a moderatley successfull book or two and becomes a journalist. He then spends the war stuck in the Bahamas spying on a paranoid exiled royal before betrayal and post war poverty and returning to sudden wealth in 60s New York. He is actually a spy all his life, an agent provacateur sent from the edge to observe and comment on whats going on at the centre, from public school to london to thatchers britain.
Yet despite not doing much, he manages to fall in and out of love and is alternately rewarded and betrayed by fate. His life is random, barely under his own control and yet still full and rich, and deeply comic. Boyd's eye for irony and sense of humor save the book from being a litany. If anything the book manages to fulfill Waughs own dictum that plot is irrelevant and only character, language and incident are valuable, and this book is full of all of this. Incident is controlled by sprawling history, language ranges from the precociousness of a sixth fomer to the ruminative wit of an old man, and character both real and fictional live and breathe. All are united by a search for love, happiness and a place in the world.
Please dont read this book because you want to read a novel "about" something- read it as a construction of a novel character and an examination of life and love. Maybe even reassess you own life and look at the checks and balances of fate and luck. But then revel in seeing an author at work at his most elegant and rewarding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life More Ordinary, 13 Dec 2010
By 
A. F. Taylor (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
I had never read a book by this author before and, from what I can gather, he has never written a book like this before. It had to be put down sometimes, of course, but not for very long. I hated the idea of finishing it because Boyd manages to make every action by Logan Mountstuart interesting - even those that are apparently of no particular significance. In fact, there are frequently little comments that cause you to think they are consequential when they rarely are. This is not a tidy life in which a plan unfolds. If there is a plan it misfired early on and little or no attempt is ever made to provide another. From time to time Logan realizes that he is drifting and resolves (not very convincingly) to do something about it. It is not until near the end that he realizes that drift (like greed) is good, that it brings its own rewards. Things happen and he copes as best he can. Frequently these things are depressing and ugly - a necessary part of the the human condition - but occasionally they are uplifting and beautiful, as in his love for Freya and hers for him. Because he is simply 'telling it as it is', Logan's account is necessarily episodic and I would not recommend this book to anybody who appreciates a good plot. There simply isn't one. I was particularly taken by the speed of events from his schooldays to his death. He manages to convey this sense of the brevity and the consequent sadness of life. It isn't quite 'struts and frets his hour upon the stage' material but there is poetry here. I shall certainly be recommending this to my friends.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 19 July 2006
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
Few novels reach the heart with such lightness, humour, adventure. I loved this. It is funny, engaging, informed, insightful, poignant - a rare mix. The author so inhabits the protagonist that one's experience is of reading a real life. It could have been flash, clever-clever, overly-knowing. It's none of these things. I highly recommend it; and as an author myself, I envy the author who can ram so much heart into a book without it becoming sentimental.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant., 15 Jun 2007
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This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
This book is incredible. What a massive task to write a fictional diary that convincingly covers an entire lifetime. But Boyd has done it. And he shows us so much about human nature along the way. I couldn't put it down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "hero" felt like a friend by the time I'd finished, 30 Nov 2004
By 
Tony Jackson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
I struggle with some of Boyd's writing - but find the two quasi-autobiographical novels (Any Human Heart and The New Confessions) truly outstanding.
They both take you on a rampage across the 20th Century - but whilst based on a similar premise are utterly different.
I am impressed with his 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, 9 Nov 2007
This review is from: Any Human Heart (Paperback)
William Boyd knows how to write a moral tale. Put a character in a tricky situation then see how he reacts and handles the fall-out, and judge him accordingly. In Any Human Heart the situation is life, and Logan Mountstuart refuses to take it lying down. A flawed character (but who isn't?) he nevertheless follows his conscience and his instinct for living. When he has lost everything and is staring into the void, he is saved by his innate curiosity and by those whose lives he has touched. It's like a lesson in living. There's less subtlety than some would like, but why does that make it any worse a novel? It's just beautiful, moving and deeply satisfying.
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Any Human Heart
Any Human Heart by William Boyd (Paperback - 11 Nov 2010)
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