Born into Edwardian England, Amory's first memory is of her father standing on his head. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, who, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future.
A spell at boarding school ends abruptly, and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, photographing socialites for the magazine Beau Monde. But Amory is hungry for more, and her search for life, love, and artistic expression will take her to the demimonde of Berlin of the late '20s, to New York of the '30s, to the blackshirt riots in London, and to France in the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. Her desire for experience will lead Amory to further wars, to lovers, husbands, and children as she continues to pursue her dreams and battle her demons.
In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of some of the most defining moments of modern history, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman, Amory Clay. It is his greatest achievement to date.
"One of the very best prose stylists and storytellers in the English language." (The Atlantic)
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failed to engage my heart
A good book killed by the narrator
I am a huge fan of William Boyd and have enjoyed everything of his that I've previously read or listened to. I really tried to get through this, but the narration was so awful, it was all I could focus on. I have since purchased the book and will read it rather than listen to it.
I guess you could compare this to Boyd's Any Human Heart.
Everything. The accent throughout sounded put on, certain consonant pronunciations were just bizarre - "wheel" for instance sounded like ooo-eel, it was relentlessly infuriating and distracted from the book itself. To me, it sounded like an elderly woman, slightly drunk, slightly cranky, trying to sound super posh whilst adjusting to a new and probably ill-fitting set of dentures.
Give up on audiobooks and go back to reading.
I like audiobooks because they allow me to do other things whilst listening. Some books are elevated enormously by a great narrator and conversely, great books can be ruined by poor narrators. I always listen to the audio sample before purchasing, and in this case, the sample sounded fine through my PC speakers. But in the more intimate atmosphere of headphones, the narration really was, for me, too much.
- Margaret M. Bell