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Customer Review

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Daft but not Dull, 19 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Blue Afternoon (Paperback)
I've really enjoyed all the William Boyd books I've read... except this one.

The character of Kay is out of step with her time. Her story could have been interesting but is abandoned in favour of her incredible search for the former lover of her mysterious "father". What a shame. A female architect struggling to make a name for herself in 30s Los Angeles. A duplicitous former colleague. A stilted relationship with her mother. A dead child. An unreliable and impecunious ex husband. A fear of being seen in her bikini. What's not to like?!

The story jumps to Manila at the turn of the century where Kay's parents are having marital difficulties. Her mother is bored and lonely. Her father is an eminent surgeon who tussles with his mixed heritage and the stultifying society in which he must participate. Neither character seems remotely similar to the parents we met in LA. Her father meets the enchanting Delphine, wife of an American soldier, and falls passionately in love. He embarks on an affair to the backdrop of the mysterious mutilation and murder of American soldiers and the attempts of his anesthetist to build a "heavier than air" flight machine. All highly entertaining if totally preposterous. Poor old Kay's role is reduced to that of narrator of her father's sordid and silly affair with a very silly woman with an even sillier name. She even has to pay for him to track his former paramour to Lisbon. We'll worry less about how Kay affords this when she needs all her pennies and more about why the hell she does it in the first place.

That's the real shame of the novel. Boyd always creates fantastic plots that hook you even when they are ridiculous and far fetched but if characters aren't credible then it slaps you around the chops and makes you question the nonsense. I hate that. I'll willingly suspend disbelief of a plot that stretches plausibility; I'll luxuriate in historical detail; I'll relish the pace of a novel that skips lightly and brightly along. BUT. I'll not be able to love any of it if the character does something jarring.

Read "Restless". Read "Any Human Heart". Read "Brazzaville Beach". Don't bother reading this unless you are on a serious Boyd kick. Or "Angel" by Jordan.. sorry... Katie Price is the only other option.

Actually, that might have been a little harsh but you take my point!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Mar 2015 23:55:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Mar 2015 23:56:00 GMT
Shelfseeker says:
My thoughts exactly! What a pity Kay's interesting story was abandoned; I would love to have known more. This is really two novels welded together, and not very neatly.
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