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by William Boyd, read by Roger May
Whole Story Audio Books, May 2012
Unabridged pages
25.52 GBP
ISBN: 1471201996

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lysander Rief has a problem of a rather delicate nature. So he decamps from England to Austria in order to consult one of Sigmund Freud's acolytes. He is rather taken with 1913 Vienna, not least with a rather unusual woman whom he meets in Dr Bensimon's waiting room. And he is very much the young man about town, a world away from his career as an actor in London.

The book takes a sudden change of direction when Lysander returns to London in a hurry. War is imminent, though, and the action spreads from tiny rooms in government offices to the trenches of France.

William Boyd a writer who hasn't played in the genre sandpit particularly presents us with lightness of touch, deceptively casual pacing and a cast of quirky characters that's distinctly different from your run-of-the-mill spy yarn.

Spooks, actors and soldiers from several nations flit across the pages. I was rather taken with Lysander's uncle Hammo, a famous explorer, who has returned from his travels with a young African companion in tow.

The narrative is locked tightly into Lysander's point of view, not least with the autobiographical interludes which tie into his meetings with Bensimon. And the faintly louche actor turns out to have hidden depths as the book moves from the sophistication of Vienna to London theatreland to rural Sussex to the trenches of France and war-torn Europe.

Even though WAITING FOR SUNRISE is by no means a conventional spy novel, some bits are fairly predictable, but this doesn't matter Boyd's relaxed storytelling keeps the action fluid. The ending is a touch on the airy-fairy side and doesn't quite deliver on some earlier twists, but it's not one where the reader will feel short-changed. This is a book where a surprising amount happens both inside and outside of Lysander's head, despite the seemingly leisurely pacing.

Roger May's narration is admirable he differentiates between nationalities and classes very neatly, and the matter-of-fact tone to his reading dovetails perfectly with Boyd's understated style.

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, July 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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