Book Club: Any Human Heart

5 Jun

Any Human Heart

by William Boyd

I had never heard of Any Human Heart until it was on ITV a while ago.  The programme was absolutely wonderful and I cried an awful lot (to be fair I cry at Hook, but I don’t care what anyone says, it is a SAD FILM).

The other week my friend Asha popped round and raided my bookcase, as is her wont.  She also left Any Human Heart with me, as she was sure I’d love it.

I read the book in about three days and enjoyed it so, so much.  Essentially it is the diaries of Logan Mountstuart, from his time at school until his death.

I know I complained when I wrote my review of Winter in Madrid, about Sansom including factual characters, and there is an awful lot of that in Any Human Heart, but it somehow works really well. Mountstuart meets Hemingway, Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and God knows how many others – but, even though it’s clearly fictional, it’s all somehow works.

At school Logan and his friends, Peter Scabius and Ben Leeping set each other challenges, something which impacts on Peter and Logan’s lives for a long time. The diaries follow Logan to Oxford, which isn’t all that he imagined.  All these little stories shape Mountstuart’s life, bringing him and Land Fothergill, Lottie Edgefield, Gloria Nesmith and, most importantly, Freya Deverell together.

William Boyd shapes Logan’s life fantastically well. Each minor event in the diaries has an impact, in some way shaping his future.  A lot of the book revolves around the parts Logan’s many women play, and how they affect his story.

I thought it was a really lovely book.  Logan’s affairs and friendships are so well written you can’t help but become engrossed.  The characters and the relationships are complex, difficult and very, very human. It’s beautifully worked out and I could happily read it again and again.

I know I haven’t really gone in to much detail, but I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the book.  It’s funny, clever and terribly touching and if you’re thinking of reading anything soon, you should definitely try this.

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