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Waiting for Sunriseby William Boyd
Synopses & Reviews
Vienna, 1913. Lysander Rief, a young English actor in town seeking psychotherapy for a troubling ailment of a sexual nature, becomes caught up in a feverish affair with a beautiful, enigmatic woman. When she goes to the police to press charges of rape, however, he is stunned, and his few months of passion come to an abrupt end. Only a carefully plotted escape—with the help of two mysterious British diplomats—saves him from trial.
But the frenzied getaway sets off a chain of events that steadily dismantles Lysander's life as he knows it. He returns to a London on the cusp of war, hoping to win back his onetime fiancée and banish from memory his traumatic ordeals abroad, but Vienna haunts him at every turn. The men who helped coordinate his escape recruit him to carry out the brutal murder of a complete stranger. His lover from Vienna shows up nonchalantly at a party, ready to resume their liaison. Unable to live an ordinary existence, he is plunged into the dangerous theater of wartime intelligence—a world of sex, scandal, and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code that is threatening Britain's safety, and use all his skills to keep this murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.
Moving from Vienna to London's West End, from the battlefields of France to hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a mesmerizing journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller, and a literary tour de force.
"Boyd excels in portraying ordinary British citizens caught up in pivotal historical events. Like Logan Montstuart, the protagonist of Any Human Heart, and Sally Gilmartin, the former espionage agent in Restless, young actor Lysander Rief has a small but crucial part to play before and during WWI. In 1913 Vienna, having gone to consult a Freudian psychoanalyst (one of Freud's former students, in fact) for a sexual problem, he encounters Hettie Bull, a highly strung expat Englishwoman of potent carnal enchantment. Though Hettie lives with someone and Rief is engaged to be married to an English actress, they begin an affair. But she accuses him of raping her and he's arrested, only to be rescued by British diplomatic officials, kicking off a web of intrigue that enmeshes Rief in ever more mysterious circumstances. The action moves to wartime France, Geneva, and London, where Rief is made to pay for his freedom by undertaking dangerous espionage missions. His continuing involvement with Hettie, over whom he breaks off his engagement, and his attraction to a French agent who almost kills him, sustains a strand of romantic suspense. On a deeper level, Boyd depicts the social and sexual hypocrisies of fin-de-siÃ¨cle Vienna and the insidious old-boy network of the British Establishment. He hews closely to his protagonist, whose perspective becomes increasingly unreliable, echoing the book's epigrams about truth and lies from Hemingway and Sophocles. Set pieces like Lysander's dead-of-night mission in no-man's-land, and his surreal experience watching a graceful zeppelin drop its bombs on central London create the atmospheric accuracy for which Boyd is justly praised. As in all of his novels, Boyd speculates about luck and chance and the unpredictable events that can determine a person's life. With its adroit plot twists and themes of deception and betrayal, this is an absorbing spy novel that raises provocative questions. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From one of our most celebrated and imaginative writers comes a spellbinding novel about deception, betrayal, psychoanalysis, and the mysteries of the human heart. William Boyd follows his critically acclaimed novels A Good Man in Africa, Brazzaville Beach, and Ordinary Thunderstorms with a razor-sharp, incandescent thriller in Waiting for Sunrise. A provocative exploration of the line between consciousness and reality is nested within a tense, rollercoaster plotline following as a young English actor ensnared in a bewildering scandal with an enigmatic woman in early twentieth-century Vienna. Sophisticated, page-turning, and unforgettable, Boyds Waiting for Sunrise is a triumph of literary fiction from one of the most powerful, thought-provoking writers working today.
About the Author
William Boyd is the critically acclaimed author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread and Somerset Maugham awards, and Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet.
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