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on 21 May 2016
Firstly have to say I listened to the audio version (and wondered if I had started to read the book I might have given up as initially struggled to see where it was going) but oh my word I'm glad I picked the CD up in the library on a whim. It's essentially the story of one mans life with its mundanity, excitements, casual cruelties, boredom, loves and losses. I felt so sad when I finished it and a bit 'lost' for a few days, it was at least a week before I could 'settle' with another book. I Will actually read it at some point but think I want to savour the anticipation of doing so a bit longer . One of those books where you have to remind yourself the person isn't actually real !! (and secretly I still feel he is!)
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on 22 September 2016
What an astonishingly imaginative, engaging and wonderfully written piece of work. It's incredible how William Boyd gets the tone of voice perfect all the way from schoolboy to old man.
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on 20 July 2017
A fantastic story - in more than one sense - beautifully written. Despite the vast difference between my own life and that of the central character, on the few occasions where the lines did cross William Boyd reached into my heart and pulled out the precise emotions I felt at the time. There are very few writers who have ever managed that, and he did it more than once. This is the first book I've read by this author, but it won't be the last.
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on 29 October 2017
I’m listening to the audio version of the book, superbly narrated. I nearly gave up at the first few hours. I didn’t like Logan very much.. but he gets to you. I started to care about him and as I reach the last hour of the audio I realise I have quite an affection for him and I’m going to miss him. It feels as if Logan is someone that I know. There is much I could say about the story but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. The main takeaways for me personally are that everything can change in an instant (luck, good or bad). Also to pay attention. Watch and listen to your life. Be IN it. Otherwise it’ll pass you by.
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on 7 October 2017
This is a book that I was sorry to finish. The journal approach to producing Logan Mountstuart’s ‘autobiography’ worked well. A brief ‘editorial’ update introduces each new journal, and footnotes occur when characters or events need a short explanation. The whole effect is to give authenticity to the Mountstuart memoir. Others have discussed the ‘journey’ covered in the book’s 500 pages, so I will just say that I found it a most enjoyable read and that the old rascal himself was someone who I warmed to, despite his faults.
The final years were very moving – Logan is growing old and contemplating the inevitable. This is when he is at his most endearing.
I loved this book. William Boyd is one of my favourite authors. For fans of the faux autobiography I recommend Boyd’s ‘Sweet Caress’ – another ‘20th century journey’ but with a totally different construction to the journal approach.
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on 19 September 2017
A fantastic book, moving, funny and occasionally surprising. Much has been written about the book although I came to it quite late having read others of Boyd's books first. It is a (fictional) story of a life that is also the story of the 20th Century. The narrator (not always a reliable one) tells his story and we see many characters and events of the century through his eyes. More than anything though it captures the feel of a life which in his case is a mix of highs and deep lows that makes for a quite emotional read at times.
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on 23 August 2017
There was something about this book that kept me reading despite Mountstuart's life being quite boring. He certainly met a lot of people - maybe a bit too much name dropping by the author, and he lived through interesting times. As did anyone who lived through any of the 20th century. Logan Mountstuart certainly got himself to, and into, hotspots. Several of these seemed to be there just to chronicle the 20th century's most memorable happenings. No spoilers from me but some just seemed contrived. But overall it's a good read.
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on 13 December 2010
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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on 23 July 2017
Wonderful book, Boyd at his best. A flawed man's memoirs about his fascinating life. It is great to read about the mistakes our hearts can lead us into, when these are happening to someone else!! I have never heard a bad word spoken about this book from a wide range of people. Brilliant, must read.
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on 6 June 2006
One of the finest books I've ever read. Written in the form of a journal, the story of the writer's extraordinary life unfolds in the most engaging way through the stages of his life from child to old man. Adventures and tragedies befall our hero over more than three quarters of a century. Not a sympathetic character yet it's impossible not to feel sympathy for him. You'll feel every emotion as you work your way through to the end of a story beautifully told.
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