02 March 2012

Waiting for Sunrise; William Boyd

Waiting for SunriseWaiting for Sunrise by William Boyd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was one of those books that didn't feel as though it knew what it wanted to be: psychological exploration? mystery? espionage thriller? all of the above? The style and the perspective also changed, sometimes to reflect the journal the main character (Lysander Reif) keeps, sometimes for reasons not quite as apparent.

Lysander is in Vienna undergoing a cure (not The Cure, because he's not seeing Freud, although Freud does make an appearance) for a sexual problem. His doctor, an Englishman, has developed the theory of "Parallellism", which appears to be creating memories that are parallel to the truth, in order to get over the original traumatic ones. And it seems to work - Lysander's problem is resolved, with the help of a gamine woman named Hettie Bull (the theory is that she's somehow representing John Bull, I had another though for the derivation). Hettie is one of the many people he meets in Vienna who later reappear in London, none of whom seem to be completely honest about who they are and why they're doing what they do.

The Great War breaks out and Lysander is essentially blackmailed into working as a spy and rooting out a traitor within the war office. There are several incidents when you wonder why an otherwise intelligent man is so naive, yet another example of the book's uncertainty about its motives.

All in all, this was an easy, vaguely pleasant read that won't really leave a lasting impression.

ARC provided by publisher.

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