Customer Review

185 of 192 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life less/more ordinary?, 19 Sep 2002
This review is from: Any Human Heart : The Intimate Journals Of Logan Mountstuart (Hardcover)
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 have done little else but read this book.
On the face of it, "Any Human Heart" has little to recommend it. It has no plot, a character with more flaws than qualities and seemingly no message to impart.
But Boyd's book is about a life. A life that is very different from yours or mine, in as much as mine is different from yours and ours are different from anyone else's. All our lives are plotless and for the most part very ordinary. Most of us have qualities that pale into insignificance when measured alongside our faults. Logan Mountstuart enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame which - despite Andy Warhol's assertions to the contrary - we don't all experience. "Every dog has his day" is probably closer to the mark.
But in reading "Any Human Heart" we get a rare insight into someone else's life - Logan Mountstuart's - from the minutiae of what he ate for lunch to the experiences that rocked his world and changed him for better or worse. Remarkably, it didn't matter to me that Logan Mountstuart was an entirely fictional character. I suppose this is because all our lives are fictions to those who don't live them.
The title confused me at first, but now I understand. We all have our stories to tell and even the most superficially "ordinary" life is extraordinary to someone else. Just consider the popularity of television's "Big Brother" to realise how fascinating we find other people's experiences - presumably because we find our own so dull. But that is not to say that others will.
We all have our ups and downs, our foibles and our virtues and experiences that make or break us. Most of our stories go untold, but Logan Mountstuart's did not. But swap his experiences for your own and this really could have been "any human heart".
Nothing I have read for years has had such a profound effect on me as this has. I don't think I could ever read it again - lives after all are only lived once. But I shall certainly be seeking out more of Mr Boyd's books.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Feb 2010 16:29:52 GMT
As soon as I started reading about Mountstuart's early school days I was totally absorbed [the memories] Read It!!

Posted on 25 Aug 2010 14:03:39 BDT
What a fantastic review. Thank you for taking such care.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Nov 2010 19:24:13 GMT
J. Rawlin says:
Mr Lewin's review is beautifully and so thoughtfully written. It was a pleasure. I am now relishing the thought of sitting down with this book and engaging with it.

Posted on 13 Nov 2010 18:36:22 GMT
What a well-written review. I've just seen the trailer for the forthcoming tv dramatisation (Channel 4) and wanted to know more about "Any Human Heart". I'm intrigued to read the book now. Thanks!

Posted on 7 Dec 2010 12:27:39 GMT
Adam Butler says:
Brilliant review. It captures in just a few sentence the emotive power of this book on any "other" human heart - that of the reader of the book.

Posted on 13 Dec 2010 02:32:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Dec 2010 02:32:30 GMT
Quentin Pain says:
Having just finished watching the Channel 4 production, I agree with everything written here. And this review is really really good in itself. Now for the book :)

Posted on 13 Dec 2010 13:53:07 GMT
I echo all the other posts regarding this review. Having just watched the TV production I must read the book, although I know that a piece of my heart will break whilst doing so. Thank you so much for this wonderful review.

Posted on 18 Dec 2010 21:46:15 GMT
Absolutely yes! I totally agree with this extremely well written review by M Lewin. I was intrigued by the write up of the forthcoming TV series and downloaded the first chapter to my Kindle. After that I downloaded the whole book and was totally hooked, only allowing myself to watch each programme after I had read the relevant section in the book. I would definitely advise anyone to read the book, even after watching the adaptation, as whole sections are missed out and well worth reading. This must be one of my top ten favourite books of all time. I can't wait to read more of William Boyd's books.

Posted on 8 Sep 2011 12:03:01 BDT
K. Price says:
Great review. I sobbed my heart out when this book concluded, feeling I'd lost someone close. I too don't think I could read it again. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the series yet, although I hear it was excellent.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Sep 2011 14:53:30 BDT
I just finished it today (reluctantly I add) and have also been sobbing periodically.
I came on here to order it for my friend and was looking at the reviews to see if it had the same affect on others!
I need to take a couple of days to decide on what to read next and to allow Logan to "pass"...
For what its worth I saw bits (mainly towards the end) of the TV series and thought it was worth exploring further, it was Jim Broadbent at that stage so you might be left with that imagine of him!
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