Books

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth

William Boyd

A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs - seeking only stolen kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth depicts the random encounters that bring the past bubbling to the surface; the impulsive decisions that irrevocably shape a life; and the endless hesitations and loss-of-nerve that wickedly complicate it. These funny, surprising and moving stories are a resounding confirmation of Boyd's powers as one of our most original and compelling storytellers.

Any Human Heart

William Boyd

Any Human Heart is William's Boyd's classic, bestselling novel, now available as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart's - lived from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century - contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in '60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full - and a journey deep into a very human heart.

Any Human Heart will be enjoyed by readers of Sebastian Faulks, Nick Hornby and Hilary Mantel, as well as lovers of the finest British and historical fiction around the world. It was recently adapted for a major Channel 4 four-part drama series scripted by William Boyd and starring Kim Cattrall, Gillian Anderson, Jim Broadbent and Tom Hollander. This edition features beautiful cover artwork from the television series.


'Astonishing, touching, extremely funny. A brilliant evocation of a past era and an immensely readable story' Sunday Telegraph

'Superb, wonderful, enjoyable' Guardian

'A terrific journey through the twentieth century. Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable' Jeremy Paxman

An Ice-cream War

William Boyd

An Ice-Cream War is William Boyd's sparkling debut novel on the grimly comic side of conflict, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

'What do you think would happen if I shot an elephant in the balls?'
'I think it would hurt a great deal.'

Millions die on the Western Front but in East Africa a quite different war is being waged - one with little point and which is so ignored that it will carry on after the Armistice because no one bothers to tell both sides to stop.

As the conflict sweeps up natives and colonials, so those left at home and those fighting abroad find themselves unable to escape the tide of history bearing down on them.

Solo

William Boyd

*The Sunday Times Bestseller*

It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.

A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M’s orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond’s renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.

Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment.

Destiny Of Nathalie X

William Boyd

This new collection of stories is William Boyd's second, appearing some fourteen years after his first, On the Yankee Station. Once again the stories range widely across the time and space of the twentieth century. 'The Destiny of Nathalie "X" 'is a modern fable about Hollywood; 'Cork' tells of a bizarre love affair between an Englishwoman and a Portuguese poet in 19305 Lisbon; Transfigured Night' is set in Vienna during the First World War and is concerned with the problematic relationship between a wealthy patron (who bears a curious resemblance to Ludwig Wittgenstein) and his indifferent benefactor. Fantasy and farce, rueful longing and the bitter acknowledgement of life's relentless ironies all feature in these nine stories by one of our most celebrated and imaginative writers.

Fascination

William Boyd

Sixteen masterpieces of short fiction from one of today's most original storytellers. Wide-ranging in style and subject matter, the collection moves from 19th century Russia to Second World War Los Angeles to modern-day Eastbourne.
First published in Penguin in 2005 to great acclaim, now reissued with a striking new cover image.

Stars and Bars

William Boyd

All Henderson Dores dreams of is fitting in. But America, land of the loony millionaire and the subway poet, down-home Bible-basher and sharp-suited hood, of paralysing personal frankness and surreally fantasized facilities, is hard enough for an Englishman to fit in to. Henderson could never shed enough inhibitions to become just another weirdo. Or could he?

This hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy, which Boyd also adapted for screen for the 1980s film starring Daniel Day Lewis, was described in the Guardian as, 'Splittingly shrewd and engaging ... with an extra and uneasy little something fretting away at the ribald content'.

The Blue Afternoon

William Boyd

Los Angeles 1936. Kay Fischer, a young, ambitious architect, is shadowed by Salvador Carriscant, an enigmatic stranger claiming to be her father. Within weeks of their first meeting, Kay will join him for an extraordinary journey into the old man's past, initially in search of a murderer, but finally in celebration of a glorious, undying love.

The New Confessions

William Boyd

The New Confessions is the outrageous, extraordinary, hilarious and heartbreaking autobiography of John James Todd, a Scotsman born in 1899 and one of the great self-appointed (and failed) geniuses of the twentieth century.

'An often magnificent feat of story-telling and panoramic reconstruction ... John James Todd's reminiscences carry us through the ups and downs of a long and lively career that begins in genteel Edinburgh, devastatingly detours out to the Western Front, forks off, after a period of cosy family life in London, to the electric excitements of the Berlin film-world of the Twenties, then moves on to Hollywood ... to ordeal by McCarthyism and eventual escape to Europe' Peter Kemp, Observer.

A Good Man in Africa

William Boyd

Escapee from suburbia, overweight, oversexed ... Morgan Leafy isn't overburdened with worldly success. Actually, he is refreshingly free from it. But then, as a representative of Her Britannic Majesty in tropical Kinjanja, it was not very constructive of him to get involved in wholesale bribery. Nor was it exactly oiling his way up the ladder to hunt down the improbably pointed breasts of his boss's daughter when officially banned from horizontal delights by a nasty dose ...

Falling back on his deep-laid reserves of misanthropy and guile, Morgan has to fight off the sea of humiliation, betrayal and ju-ju that threatens to wash over him.

Armadillo

William Boyd

Lorimer Black - young, good-looking, but with a somewhat troubled expression - does not understand why his world is being torn apart, though he does know that for the most part it is made up of bluster and hypocrisy. His business, trying to keep insurance companies from paying out the money they've promised, is a con game run with the protection of the law.

One winter's morning, Lorimer goes to keep a perfectly routine business appointment and finds a hanged man. A bad start to the day, by any standards, and an ominous portent of things to come.

Brazzaville Beach

William Boyd

'I live on Brazzaville Beach ... I am here because two sets of strange and extraordinary events happened to me ... One in England, first, and then one in Africa.'

On Brazzaville Beach, on the edge of Africa, Hope Clearwater examines the complex circumstances that brought her there. Sifting the details for evidence of her own innocence or guilt, she tells her engrossing story with a blunt and beguiling honesty that not only intrigues and disturbs but is also completely enthralling.

The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Muriel Spark (and others)

A man of devilish charm and enterprising spirit, Dougal Douglas is employed to revitalize the ailing firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley. He succeeds, but not quite in the way his employer intended. Strange things begin to happen as Dougal exerts an uncanny influence on the inhabitants of Peckham Rye and brings lies, tears, blackmail and even murder into the lives of all he meets, from Miss Merle Coverdale, head of the typing pool, to Beauty, the resident femme fatale, and even Mr Druce, the unsuspecting Managing Director himself.

Biography

William Boyd was born in 1952 in Accra, Ghana and grew up there and in Nigeria. His first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), won the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize. His other novels include An Ice Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), The New Confessions (1987), Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner of the 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award), Armadillo (1998), Any Human Heart (2002, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet) and Restless (2006, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year Award). His latest novel is Sweet Caress (2015). Some seventeen of his screenplays have been filmed, including The Trench (1999), which he also directed, and he is also the author of four collections of short stories: On the Yankee Station (1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995), Fascination (2004) and The Dream Lover (2008). He is married and divides his time between London and South West France.