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Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Any Human Heart (original 2002; edition 2004)

by William Boyd

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1,787743,928 (4.11)143
Title:Any Human Heart
Authors:William Boyd
Info:Vintage (2004), Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Your library, 25-book List A, Read 2011
Tags:Fiction - Literary

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Any Human Heart by William Boyd (2002)


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» See also 143 mentions

English (70)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  All (74)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
It took me from elementary school through Oxford to get into the rhythm of the book, but then I fell for it. The characters were flesh and bone. LMS gave growing old a good name. Just when a reader might be forgiven for thinking there was no corner left to turn: voila! I loved the name dropping, and for the editorial asides. I especially got a kick out of the artist N. Tate.

Although I've never listened to a recorded book twice, I think this may be an exception.

Simon Vance did his usual masterly narration. ( )
  kaulsu | Jun 7, 2017 |
The journals of Logan Mountstuart tell of his long and colorful life as an art dealer, writer, lover, spy, prisoner, and sometimes cad. Spanning December 10th, 1923 to October 5th, 1991 we watch as the 20th century unfolds. What makes Any Human Heart so enticing is the inclusion of real events (World War II and the death of JFK, to name two) and real people, especially from the worlds of art and literature; people like Picasso and Hemingway.

You know the saying, you can't judge a book by its cover? Well, let it be said, you can't judge a book by its length either. I was convinced I would have to slog through 500 plus pages half paying attention. Wrong. This was delightful. Devious, but delightful.
There was one review that stuck with me as I was reading Any Human Heart. The New York Times said you could almost forget Logan Mountstuart is not a real person. His journal entries are convincingly honest. I couldn't agree more. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 22, 2017 |
What a wonderful book. The intimate journals of one Loagan Gonzago Mountstuart, this book follows one man's life across the 20th Century. Presented as edited entries from his personal journals, Boyd follows his protagonist from University, through his early career as a writer, the war, running an art gallery in New York to a final, quite moving old age in Britain and France.

Along the way Logan manages to rub shoulders with the great and the good (Hemingway, The Duke and Duchess of York, Picasso and many others) while experiencing the small victories and tragedies of his own life. Logan is well aware of his own shortcomings as both a lover, father, husband and human being and never flinches from recording this in his journals. Boyd has managed to conjure a very convincing account of one man's life.

Certain passages stand out. His Spanish Civil War experiences; his time as a spy in the Bahamas during WWII; his imprisonment in Switzerland in the dog days of the war and the tragedy of his return to Britain after the war.

Later, Logan experiences a poverty stricken old age in dull and dour 70's London, but even here manages to get involved in the fringes of the more radical political movements (Red Army Faction; Baader-Meinhoff). A stroke of luck finds him living out his last days in a small village in France and I found these last entries very moving.

All in all a great, unconventional novel. Highly recommended. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
Enjoyable read. Fun name dropping of authors and artists in early to mid-20th century Europe and US. ( )
  magerber | Feb 22, 2016 |
My first and still favorite Boyd book. The main character manages to be in all the right places at all the right times during many of the critical junctures of the 20th Century. Along the way he gets to meet Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and Evelyn Waugh (and a host of others). Unfortunately he never quite seems to get famous despite his "good" fortune. The reader, however, gets a fantastic ride in the process. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Boydprimary authorall editionscalculated
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:20 -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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