1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ambitious and a little overlong, but still very readable,
This review is from: The New Confessions (Paperback)
This epic novel is the fictitious life story, from birth to old age, of a typically Boyd-ian character. It is written in the first person, mostly focussing on episodes from the past, with an ongoing story set in the character's present (1970s) interspresed throughout. I found it similar to Boyd's later novel, Any Human Heart, in terms of its style and scope, although his protagonist here and his life events are sufficiently different. It's certainly ambitious in scope, taking in a wide variety of settings and scenarios.
The central character is one you'd often like to reach into the page and shake, so frustrating are some of his decisions, but he is all the more realistic for it. Whilst the storyline is far-fetched, Boyd has a skill for making the extraordinary seem ordinary and real. It's also an interesting look at a diverse range of areas, from the Western Front to the film industry. Some of the storylines and characters seem underdeveloped, and the central character has a rather implausible number of romantic liaisons, but overall it's a reasonable enough story and told with Boyd's usual flair and skill.
That said, it's a long book and perhaps could have done with a slightly tougher edit, but despite that I did enjoy reading it.