Category Archives: William Boyd

Do I Want To Read… Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Once again I am looking to all of you for advice on a book that I have been umming and ahhing about, however I wasn’t (if I am honest) until last week when I saw a feature in the paper all about it’s adaptation. It seems the next big Sunday night period drama in the UK, after the wonderful Downton Abbey finished, is going to be ‘Any Human Heart’ based on the book by William Boyd. It looks like its going to be marvellous, I held off from watching it this Sunday because of course in this instance I always think ‘should I read the book first?’, so now I am asking you… should I?

I have only read one other William Boyd novel before, though I do have ‘Ordinary Thunderstorms’ on Mount TBR and that was ‘Restless’ which was in my pre-blogging days for an old book group. I have to say I really, really enjoyed it I also promised my self to read some more of his work… and then of course haven’t since 2007.

Back to ‘Any Human Heart’ though! After having seen this feature and my interest being piqued I decided to pop to that fountain of all book knowledge (my tongue is in my cheek) that is a certain online book store to see what people were saying in their reviews. We know on that site people can be quite venomous, hence why I was always going to ask you all your thoughts regardless, yet the reviews I started reading for this novel were all simply incredible. People saying things such as ‘nothing I have read for years has had such a profound effect on me as this has’ and ‘read pretty much continuously, but was unable to pick up another book for almost two weeks after finishing this – there was no point, I was…replete’. Now that is quite some quotes from those reviewers, only it also rather intimidated me as I thought ‘oh dear what if its so good nothing compares afterwards?’

So I thought I would ask out into the blogosphere and see if any of you have read it and what you made of it, or if you know people who have read it and what they thought? Anyone else suddenly had the urge to read this?

I did notice that people are in uproar on thta certain site as the Kindle edition is more than the book… I inwardly jumped for joy at that, buy the blinking book instead.

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Filed under Do I Want To Read?, William Boyd

Snow & The Last Loot

Isn’t it amazing how snow (which we get almost every year) seems to cause no end of issues? It’s only frozen water. Maybe it’s just the northerner in me who had to trek almost a mile to school down steeply inclined hills and back up them daily even if we were 6 inches deep in snow who finds the drama in London a little hard to digest? If anyone has been to Matlock Bath you will know that when I say steep I mean virtually quarried hills. Here is a picture Gran sent me this morning, we used to live on the big hill opposite which is surrounded by valleys which you can’t see sadly but you get the gist.

So I find all the British snowy panic in the press seems a bit excessive, if you’re snowed in you get more time to read and it looks lovely! I am glad though that after two whole days of freezing weather with no boiler I am looking at the snow in the heat once more. The grump that living and working from home in no heat caused you might imagine was quite horrific, but it’s distracted me from the fact I have not been able to buy a book since my last mad loot last Thursday. I thought I would share that with you today. So here are the last books I bought before midnight struck on the 31st of December.

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski
  • The Late Hector Kipling – David Thewlis
  • DeNiro’s Game – Rawi Hage
  • White Teeth – Zadie Smith
  • Bad Girls – Mary Flanagan

  • Ordinary Thunderstorms – William Boyd
  • Alligator – Lisa Moore
  • An Elergy For Easterly – Petina Gappah (you may notice two here, this is because I will be giving away one to one of you, I am always thinking of you guys)
  • Friendly Fires – Alaa Al Aswany
  • Wild Sheep Chase – Haruki Murakami
  • Cobwebs and Cream Tea’s – Mary Mackie
  • The Queen of the Tambourine – Jane Gardham
  • The Unbearable Likeness of Being – Milan Kundera
  • Scoop – Evelyn Waugh (had this already but not in this orange series I collect)
  • The Lure – Felice Picano

I think a final £6 spree for fifteen books isn’t bad is it? So did I do ok, what books of these have you read and what did you think?

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Evelyn Waugh, Haruki Murakami, Petina Gappah, William Boyd

The Savidge Top Ten Best Books of 2007

This is a really hard decision after such a brilliant year of reading, though am gutted didn’t managed 100 books, maybe this year, we shall see. I have to say part of me wanted to do a top twenty or a top 13 like the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ because I simply had so many that I would heartily recommend to you all. But enough of me waffling on, here is my list of what I thought was superb reading in 2007.

10. The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly
This was possibly one of the most surprising books of the year for me which I read after a recommendation from on of the book group members. She had read it and thought that it would be right up my street and she was indeed right. This is a tale of David a twelve year old boy who has just lost his mother. Having moved to a new house he buries himself in the world of books to beat out the grief in his head. However these stories start to seep into the real world and bad things start to happen and The Crooked Man comes to claim David. This book was dark enthralling and added a new exciting twist to fairytales that brought out your childhood fears.

9. Case Histories – Kate Atkinson
I fell in love with Kate’s writing, not with ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ as I didn’t really take to that and never finished it, with ‘Human Croquet’ which had a brilliant dark otherness about it. Having re-found my love for crime fiction in the last twelve months I was overjoyed to discover she has written a combination of crime and literary fiction and ‘Case Histories’ was simply superb. Following Jackson Brodie, a brilliant complex main character, ex soldier and police man as he is hired as a private detective Atkinson takes a look at how small the world is and how coincidences can change everything and interlink. Brilliant plotting, superb characters.

8. Winter in Madrid – C.J.Sansom
Having also read his Historical Literary Crime (now there is a new genre) novel ‘Dissolution’ this year I have really rather enjoyed my two experiences of Sansom. However this novel set in 1940 after the Spanish Civil War in the ruins of Madrid was just stunning. Harry Brett is sent by the government to spy and find out as much as he can about old school chum Sandy Forsyth who has become somewhat of a shady character in Madrid. Harry becomes involved in a dangerous game of plots, skeletons in closets and emotional warfare. I thought this was absolutely brilliant and let out a huge ‘gasp’ at the ending I didn’t see coming. I also bought a few copies for people for Christmas.

7. Restless – William Boyd
This book was another complete surprise for me and a fresh take on the war from a female point especially from the point of a spy. In 1939 Eva Delectorskaya, twenty eight, is a Russian living in Paris when she is recruited by the British Secret Service and put under the tutoring of Lucas Romer a man of mystery. The book starts as in the present day Eva’s past comes back to haunt her as a grandmother happily settled. I found this book both thrilling and unique, you don’t think of grandma spies really do you. I found it fast paced and yet it really got into the characters and their motives. I bought this for a lot of people over the year.


6. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox – Maggie O’Farrell This was a recommendation from my Gran who herself is a great reader and it takes a lot to impress her after 60 odd years of reading and three book clubs, she devoured this in two sittings. I devoured it in one. When Iris Lockheart gets a phone call telling her she has a long lost Aunt she has never heard of and who is due for release from an asylum and could she come and get her, her independent lifestyle gets embroiled in secrets from the families past. I found this unsuspecting thriller completely sucked me in and wasn’t expecting the tale of Esme’s journey to the Asylum to be so gripping whilst also so emotional. This was unputdownable if that’s a word.

5. The Observations – Jane Harris
This was one of those books that you should judge by the cover. I was in a little independent book shop in Cromford when I saw this as one of their recommended titles and it looked so gothic, dark, mysterious and full of secrets, I thought ‘why not?’ This is brilliant novel and without a doubt Bessy Buckley is my favourite character of the year, and her narration is wonderful (I didn’t find her Scottish and Victorian slang annoying at all) I though it was a unique voice. The story tells of Bessy taking a job for Arabella in her grand house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Bessy is more than happy at first as she is escaping her past in Glasgow, however, when asked to keep a journal of her most intimate thoughts along side her employer’s odd behaviour she starts to worry. Worries that build up further when she finds her employer had a slight obsession for her predecessor Nora who died mysteriously. This book is just brilliant, gripping, mysterious it has all the makings of a future classic and with a heroine like Bessy it deserves to be.

4. Half Of A Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It was difficult to only put this at number four because it was so brilliant but the competition was really, really tough this year with so many good books. This is possibly one of the most heart wrenching novels I have ever read set in the lead up, and start, of Nigeria’s Biafra War. The book has three unique outlooks from that of a servant boy Ugwu, his employer’s wife Olanna, and Richard a journalist who is Olanna’s twin sister’s lover from England. I found this book incredibly moving and upsetting the vividness of the war engrained so much on the page that you felt you were there for the shock and awe of it all. Not an easy read by any standard but a book I think should be in everyone’s collection.

3. Atonement – Ian McEwan
I have officially started to become a huge fan of McEwan and plan to read a lot more of his books this year. Of course with the big movie out I would be surprised if there is anyone now who hasn’t read the book or who doesn’t know the story. A story based all around confusion, childhood interpretations and mistakes, after Briony sees her sister Cecilia jump in a fountain whilst their childhood friend watches. From then on more mistakes are made and people’s lives are changed forever. I wasn’t expecting the war to loom in the book but it was dealt with well and added an extra something to the book. This is one of McEwan’s longest and possibly one of his best.

2. The Book Thief – Marcus Zusack
I remember when I was recommended this by the same lady who recommended ‘Restless’ I thought “not another book about the War”. I have to say the originality with which Zusack writes this novel made it without question one of the best books of the year. The narrator of the novel is Death during his particularly busy phase in 1939 Germany and a book thief that he encounters, nine year old Liesle who lives with her adoptive family in bomb torn Himmel Street. I didn’t think a book written by Death sounded like it would be much fun, and there isn’t fun in war, however this book is full of real hope for humans written in beautiful prose where every word has been thought through. It was easy to see why this was the biggest selling debut adult novel in 2007.

1. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’… I didn’t expect to find my new favourite read of all time (so far) this year, especially after ‘The Woman in White’ is such a tough act to follow, but with Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ from the first few pages it was a complete love affair. I love all things gothic and this book had it all. Following the unnamed second Mrs De Winter after she marries Maxim this books takes us through mystery, a beguiling ex-wife an evil housekeeper (Mrs Danvers was my favourite character in the whole book), a rambling estate and a possible murder. This book is a great gothic mystery but is also a great insight into people and how they work. If I hadn’t made the decision to put only one book per author in my top ten then I would have had to have ‘Jamaica Inn’ on the list which is almost as good. I am only worried now that having read what’s meant to be the best Du Maurier first I might be let down from now on, somehow though I doubt it.

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Filed under Book Thoughts, Books of 2007, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Daphne Du Maurier, Ian McEwan, Jane Harris, John Connolly, Kate Atkinson, Maggie O'Farrell, Marcus Zusack, William Boyd