Any Human Heart

  • by William Boyd
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 15 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author William Boyd—the novelist who has been called a “master storyteller” (Chicago Tribune) and “a gutsy writer who is good company to keep” (Time)—here gives us his most entertaining, sly, and compelling novel to date. The novel evokes the tumult, events, and iconic faces of our time as it tells the story of Logan Mountstuart—writer, lover, and man of the world—through his intimate journals. It covers the “riotous and disorganized reality” of Mountstuart’s 85 years in all their extraordinary, tragic, and humorous aspects.
The journals begin with his 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 20th-century life.


What the Critics Say

“Boyd does such a nimble job of ventriloquism in the book’s opening sections that we find ourselves forgetting that Mountstuart is a fictional character.” (New York Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

very satisfying story-telling

I'm tempted to call this novel "Forrest Gump Dances to the Music of Time" - but that would trivialize it. It's a more contemporary Evelyn Waugh/Anthony Powell -esque "20th century as lived through an (English) individual." The protagonist even meets Powell and Waugh in the course of his travels around and about the 20th century. It's not as grand as Powell, but then much of Powell dances over my head.

Our hero is Forrest Gump-like in that he causually crosses paths with an incredible number of historical figures -- but the story is so well spun, this never seems incredible when you're inside it. Of course, our hero is a literary figure, much like Powell's and Waugh's protagonists, but he's more accessible, and where Waugh would accentuate the satire and Powell make the prose dance, Boyd leans toward story and character and oblique historical backdrop.

You'll either love the novel or hate it. If the thought of "listening in" on a journal that skips a year here and there to land our Brit on the fringe of a revolution or other pivotal event turns you off, with discursions for how he's feeling about his current love and decor, skip it. I listened to it almost nonstop for two evenings and loved it.
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- connie "Narrative makes the world go round."

Fiction with insight more often found in biography

This story and it's telling traverses the banalities of life from the lovingly familiar and mundane to the sweet ache when life offers splurges of intense emotion. I wonder if this is written for those who have covered most of their life's ground. The story offers favorite moments of characterization. This book engaged me.

I admire William Boyd's talent for writing - for telling. A favorite author.
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- Linda

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-09-2011
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.