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Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Any Human Heart (original 2002; edition 2011)

by William Boyd (Author), Simon Vance (Narrator)

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1,528624,810 (4.1)104
Title:Any Human Heart
Authors:William Boyd (Author)
Other authors:Simon Vance (Narrator)
Info:2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc., audible.com
Collections:Your library
Tags:audio, literary fiction, 2012, epistolary

Work details

Any Human Heart by William Boyd (2002)


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English (59)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
I lived in this book for a week and didn't want to leave it. I felt myself flag after WWII ended, the 50's and 60's art world of New York is not my time, but I still was pulled along and into it and loved every word and page. More Boyd please.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
bookshelves: impac-longlist, booker-longlist, fraudio, published-2002, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, spies, historical-fiction, lit-richer, lifestyles-deathstyles, art-forms, epistolatory-diary-blog, south-americas, uruguay, britain-england, cults-societies-brotherhoods, sport, gr-library, france, paris, oxford, glbt, spain, books-about-books-and-book-shops, norfolk, teh-brillianz, greece, adventure, cover-love, epic-proportions, eye-scorcher, london, madrid, war, wwii, lisbon, portugal, filthy-lucre, nassau, bahamas, switzerland, britain-scotland, iceland, suicide, teh-demon-booze, new-york, germany, picaresque, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, travel, edinburgh, those-autumn-years, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, north-americas, music, midlife-crisis, african-continent, afr-nigeria, skoolzy-stuff, dodgy-narrator, afr-somalia
Read from November 28, 2013 to January 16, 2014

Read by Mike Grady

From the description: The journals begin with Mountstuart's boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay, then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book, then on to Paris where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al., and to Spain, where he covers the civil war. During World War II, we see him as an agent for naval intelligence, becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, then on to West Africa, to London where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity. This is a moving, ambitious, and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of twentieth-century life.

In the fashion of Zelig, Forrest Gump and the 100 year old man, Mountstuart is in all the right places meeting all the important people, however Any Human Heart is an absolute joy as Boyd's writing leaves those also-rans in the starting gates.

Purringly enjoyed Logan's slamming of the Bloomsbury set, that circle of spite who lived in squares and loved in triangles. Not sure about the portrayal of Duke and Duchess and for this reason I support a flawed, dodgy narrator scenario.

And that goodreads product description box - WTF! It is just a review filched over from Amazon book sales, with its inherent bias. Bad News! Check the product description elsewhere.

Born on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Joan Miró Ferra was a Spanish painter.

From wiki: Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet (December 23, 1874 – July 7, 1943) was an American-born British Canadian gold mine owner, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He earned his fortune in Canada and in the 1930s moved to the Bahamas for tax purposes, where he was murdered in 1943 in notorious circumstances. The cause of death and the details surrounding it have never been entirely determined, and have been the subject of several books and four films.

Have the TV miniseries to watch at some stage, however, for now, I will mull over the full life of Logan MS - I am in my weeds for you.

4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart - recommended
4* Brazzaville Beach
WL Waiting for Sunrise
3* Armadillo
AB Solo ( )
  mimal | Jan 16, 2014 |
Waste of time. Story in journal form of a novelist - though he shows little sign of intelligence imagination or literary style. He rubs shoulders with numerous celebs of the first half of the 20th century (V. Woolf, Duke of Windsor, Hemingway); these are rendered in thumbnail sketches, more like nail-clippings. The protagonist has a sex-life, at its most interesting with a Russian prostitute in Paris. Little discernible plot, just a sequence of events. A scattering of factual oddities and inconsistencies, such as the WW1 vets at Oxford in 1924! were they all doing doctorates?
Didn't finish it. Enjoyed his first two books some years back, so disappointed in this. ( )
  vguy | Dec 29, 2013 |
A Stanford Book Salon selection for 2012-2013. I really tried to read this -- got about 3/4 the way through, but it was a tough journey for me. One of those books where the writing was great, but I didn't particularly like any of the characters. The journal style, with editorial comments, was interesting, though. Plus, I really dislike injecting historic characters into novels for cameos. So often it is clunky and now reminds me of Forrest Gump. (The one exception I can think of is Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna, which blew me away. Her story of how she painstakingly shefit the historical figures into the novel was also worth the read.) From what I understand, the central figure (the supposed writer of the journal) is a character in at least one other of Boyd's novels. I put the book aside a few weeks back, and have not been able to pick it back up, despite the discussion on the Salon. I do intend to finish it one day.

However, I do love the title of the book. and the quotation from Henry James, "Never say you know the last word about any human heart."

The questions that the salon is discussing include:
Why does Logan really marry Lottie? Was he flattered, lonely, bored? Would he argue it "just happened"?

What dies with Tess (friendship with Peter? a piece of youth? anything else?)? Or does she die with the end of an era she represents?

Are Logan's encounters with Hemingway and the Spanish paintings mere luck, or has he done something to deserve the bounty?
  bookczuk | Apr 23, 2013 |
I’ve gone back and changed my rating a couple of times already, I decided that since I keep thinking about it (much more than I expected) it must deserve the higher rating.
I don’t think there are any real spoilers here, but I have to mention some of the broad plot points to give my reasons for my rating. I picked this up at random thinking it was some obscure, unread book and not realizing it was fairly popular, or that there was a BBC production of it.

This is the (fictional) story of a man’s life, from beginning to end, told through his journal entries. He’s a fairly ordinary man, a moderately successful writer, who finds himself in some of the big historical events of the last century. Unlike similar books I’ve read (one just recently, which put me off this at first) he is not a hero or the secret brain behind events; he’s not the guy that told Edison the secret of the light bulb, or told the Allies how to win the war. This book is almost the opposite of that.

He’s the guy who’s standing in the background in the famous picture. When you read an account of a famous gathering of writers and artists, a dinner or a party, he’s the name you don’t recognize. I’ve always been very curious about those people, I’m always asking "what’s their story?" and apparently Mr. Boyd was too and wrote one. I think Mr. Boyd did a great job capturing that story, and the book is well written, the problems come from the same source as the strengths; the whole point is that the main character is not the most interesting man in the world. He leads a very interesting life compared to most, but not interesting enough to tell stories about. He occupies that middle ground. If you’re like me and always wonder who that actress is that made a bunch of movies but no one remembers her name, or read an obituary buried somewhere and thought the person had lived an interesting life, this will probably interest you.

The other side of this book is a look at what it is to be a man and get through life. Again, something that’s been covered many times, in some ways reminds me of what I thought the "The Sportswriter" could’ve been (which I didn’t care for). The subject is a good guy, and tries to be, but does things that are not always admirable, if never outright evil or bad.

My criticisms are tempered by the feeling that the book does exactly what it attempts to do. I had the strange feeling after reading the journals of a man’s entire life that I still didn’t know him that well, but I think in some ways he didn’t know himself that well, and that’s what you get from only reading his journals. There is no narrator to add extra depth and description. I like the fact that Mr. Boyd resisted the temptation to make the characters and events larger than life, they are exactly life size. You could almost forget you’re reading a fictional account.

If you’re looking for a hero story or a great adventure you will be disappointed. If you want a quiet story of a man trying to figure out his life and living through the big events of recent history then I think it was well done. ( )
  bongo_x | Apr 6, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Boydprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grady, MikeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Never say you know the last word about any human heart".
-- Henry James
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"Yo, Logan," I wrote.
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Book description
A fictional diary, 1923-91, 490 pages, with footnotes and a 12-page index which includes references to both historical and fictional characters.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141009284, Paperback)

Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, writer, was born in 1906, and died of a heart attack on October 5, 1991, aged 85. William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart is his disjointed autobiography, a massive tome chronicling "my personal rollercoaster"--or rather, "not so much a rollercoaster", but a yo-yo, "a jerking spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child." From his early childhood in Montevideo, son of an English corned beef executive and his Uraguayan secretary, through his years at a Norfolk public school and Oxford, Mountstuart traces his haphazard development as a writer. Early and easy success is succeeded by a long half-century of mediocrity, disappointments and setbacks, both personal and professional, leading him to multiple failed marriages, internment, alcoholism and abject poverty.

Mountstuart's sorry tale is also the story of a British way of life in inexorable decline, as his journey takes in the Bloomsbury set, the General Strike, the Spanish Civil War, 1930s Americans in Paris, wartime espionage, New York avant garde art, even the Baader-Meinhof gang--all with a stellar supporting cast. The most sustained and best moment comes mid-book, as Mountstuart gets caught up in one of Britain's murkier wartime secrets, in the company of the here truly despicable Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Elsewhere author William Boyd occasionally misplaces his tongue too obviously in his cheek--the Wall Street Crash is trailed with truly crashing inelegance--but overall Any Human Heart is a witty, inventive and ultimately moving novel. Boyd succeeds in conjuring not only a compelling 20th century but also, in the hapless Logan Mountstuart, an anti-hero who achieves something approaching passive greatness. --Alan Stewart, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:48 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

William Boyd's masterful new novel tells, in a series of intimate journals, the story of Logan Mountstuart -- writer, lover, art dealer, spy -- as he makes his often precarious way through the twentieth century.

(summary from another edition)

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