Cecily's book reviews

In general I've written reviews of every book I've read since I joined GoodReads (RIP) in May 08, along with one or two I read prior to that. More recent reviews tend to be longer (sometimes a tad too long?). I always carry a book, though I don't get as much time as I'd like to get engrossed - life is busy, but in a good way. Too many of my favourite authors died without writing enough! Apart from reading, and writing about reading, I enjoy Scrabble, good restaurants, woodland, and attending the theatre.
Restless - William Boyd I read this because I enjoyed Any Human Heart (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/142945044) so much; I don't normally read tales of wartime espionage. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

The story alternates between the wartime life of Eva, recruited as a spy, and ~30 years later, when she tells her adult daughter about it. There are also subplots relating to the daughter's life, though I think the book would have been better without them: Eva's story is exciting enough without trying to draw weak parallels a generation later. I found it a compelling read.

I opens with a vivid description of bucolic 1970s England, which contrasts with later wartime scenes. A major tactic was planting misinformation in minor publications and hoping the bigger ones would pick it up, gaining authenticity with each republication - rather as happens with urban legends on the internet today.

The fear, complexity and psychological aspects of living a duplicitous life are captured authentically, or so it seemed to me: you look at the world differently, never relax and never trust anyone. However, the voice of the 5 year old grandson was not at all authentic (with a few exceptions near the end).

Overall, a fascinating and enjoyable read, albeit imperfect.

Miscellaneous quotes:

* A dilapidated house "giving up its parched ghost to entropy".
* "Massive black-green yews that seemed to drink the light of day."
* Scotland: "There lingered in the landscape a memory of many winters' hardship."
* "I felt like a house shaken by some nearby explosion: tiles had fallen, there was a thick cloud of dust, windows had blown in."
* "Intelligence wasn't neutral... if it was believed or even half-believed, then everything began subtly to change as a result - the ripple effect could have consequences no one could foresee."
* "Sometimes it amazed Eva how fluently and spontaneously she could lie. Think everyone is lying to you all the time, Romer said, it's probably the safest way to proceeed."
* "The guileless child was already beginning to develop the opacities of the growing boy... where veils of ignorance and unknown exist even between the people you were closest to."

Currently reading

The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Sebastian Peake, China MiƩville, Mervyn Peake
Mervyn Peake