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Restless (2015)

Restless (2015)

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3.82 of 5 Votes: 4
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0747589372 (ISBN13: 9780747589372)

About book Restless (2015)

In offering a review of a novel by William Boyd I could certainly be accused of bias. I would proudly plead guilty, since I regard him as one of just four or five British writers who are capable of constructing supreme works of fiction, written in a framework that is both informative and thought-provoking and all this set within a continuum of contemporary or historical events which themselves become re-interpreted by the fiction. In Restless, Boyd’s latest novel, he has re-stated this ability and, if anything, written it larger via a smaller form.The historical element in Restless is supplied by the activities of an offshoot of World War Two intelligence. Ostensibly a private, dis-ownable initiative of a particular group, Boyd suggests that it formed an integral part of the British strategy, during the early part of the war, to force the United States to join the Allied effort. The fact, therefore, that it was undermined and subverted so that it perhaps aimed to achieve the opposite of its brief was probably par for the course when espionage meets its freelance counter, but the denouement is surprising and wholly credible.In front of this backdrop of fact meeting fiction, we have a landscape of human relationships. Ruth is a single mother in Oxford. She, herself, has had certain German connections, nay relations, hence the motherhood. She makes a living teaching English to foreign tutees, has several dubious visitors, dreams about completing an aging PhD and generally spends much of her time looking after a precocious five-year-old. And then her mother becomes someone quite unknown to her. The widow in the Oxfordshire retreat suddenly becomes part Russian, part English, with a French step-mother. She possessed several different identities before she became Mrs Gilmartin and most of these were fiction to provide cover for the others. How many of us, after all, can claim to have known our parents before they were parents?So, as Mrs Gilmartin the mother reveals to her daughter via instalments of an autobiography that she is really Eva Delectorskaya, recruited in Paris to conduct a campaign of wartime disinformation in the United States, the complications of life gradually attain the status of the mundane. Recruited, perhaps, because she was rootless and thus expendable, Eva proved herself intellectually and operationally superior to her manipulative managers and survived the posting that was supposed to achieve their subverted ends and, at the same time, erase her potential to supply evidence. Many years later, Eva, now Mrs Gilmartin, feels the need to get even, to expose the double or triple-cross for what it was and deliver at least a prod to the comfortable, self-congratulatory but traitorous British establishment that ran her. Daughter Ruth becomes the means.So one messy life tries to tie up its soggy ends via the actions of another who is apparently yet to attain the same depths of complication. And she succeeds. The fright is delivered. The memory that Eva, the mother, was fundamentally brighter than the upper class Brits who were trying to manipulate her is rekindled. Her training was perfect, but she went beyond it and the plan backfired, irrelevantly as it turned out because greater events intervened. But years later, Eva, Mrs Gilmartin, is still brighter than her boss and, through her daughter’s efforts, she brings a special kind of justice to bear on the double-dealer who ruined, but also perhaps made her life.In characteristically humble terms, William Boyd reminds us at the end that we are all watched, all awaiting the cupboard to reveal its skeleton, but in our more mundane lives, it is unlikely to be as colourful an event as that which Eva Delectorskaya, Mrs Gilmartin, and her daughter Ruth uncover.

i just about stayed with this to the end but for a good writer like william boyd , i found it underwhelming .the characters are very thin and a lot of them pointless , the plot creaks like a House of Horror film door , and most of the writing is cliched . most of what Boyd seems to know about spying seems to have come from the Mail on Sunday here are some gems that i noticed here is Romer , supposedly a big cheese spy ,explaining the rules of spying " don't trust anyone " he said ..........god i'm glad i was not a spy . i just could not keep up with the pace of it at that level here is Eva the herione being advised by a woman " a little world weary , she said there is nothing easier in this world , than getting a man to kiss you .. how do you do that ? just stand close to a man ..blah blah blah" it was always going to be a dirty war " . yes that really is there in black and white on page 173 and it was not said in a WW11 spoof but in this book by " one of our most celebrated contemporary novelists " . that's what the sunday times thinks anyway .there's more " does the name "mr x " help you identify anyone ?" that's on page 192 just in case you think i'm making it up . funnily the answer was negative the heroine is always " looking shrewdly " at people . that's because she was a spy you see .A lot of the setting is Oxford and Oxfordshire based . a spy thriller with a whiff of the upperclass and priviledged now where have i heard that before . ah yes Burgess , Blunt etc . this is just lazy on Boyd's part .pointless characters in no particular order ; some german bloke who was in porno films and walks around naked and had something to do with 70's radicalism , the son Jochen who talks like a forty year old , Hamid an iranian engineer who proposes marriage to the daughter , the daughter who we are led to believe is brilliant but seems to twig on pretty slowly , the german father of jochen and his languid wife . i must have forgotten the other ones perhaps because they were yup pointless . cliches abound particularly in the description of a london gentleman's club whose members and staff look down on our plucky daughter because she is , gasp , a woman . she inevitably is upset by this . i forgot to mention that she is a single mother which seems to be a sort of short hand for being interesting , different and so clever . she is not working class i hasten to add , perish the thought . the other great cliche is the University academic who features strongly . make that up yourself , you know part Evelyn Waugh , part Patrick Moore . the plot device where the mother explains her past to the daughter in written in installments and is a totally unbelievable in method apart from being boring . i think the reason that this book irritated me so much was that apart from being poor , there are dozens of better thriller and spy writers around whose books get ignored because their name is not William Boyd and they are not thought of as literary . it's all so unfair . Robert Wilson's " a small death in lisbon " knocks the spots off ( oops i've caught the cliche bug ) this novel , not too mention Le Carre . so i won't .

Do You like book Restless (2015)?

A well-written and suspenseful novel of espionage circa WWII. The heroine is intelligent, resourceful, complex and likeable. Her experiences are plausible and left me wondering if the British really were involved in operations of the sort described in the book.The dual time frame structure of the book worked well. The two strands eventually meeting at the denouement brought the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion. My only criticism is that “The Story of Eva Delectorskaya” was written as just that: a story. This was supposed to be a memoir, written by a mother for her daughter. Realistically, this sort of document would not contain dialogue or descriptions of, for example, the sound of rain dripping onto the forest floor. But perhaps I’m being too critical. I admit that this didn’t dawn on me until I was halfway through the book. Nevertheless, it does detract from the verisimilitude of the construct. I love well-written espionage and this definitely qualifies. It transported me to another time and place and provided a fascinating glimpse into the intricacies of spy craft. This book will definitely appeal to those who have read and admired Ken Follett’s “The Eye of the Needle.” It is very nearly, if not quite, worthy of a place on the shelf with the work of John LeCarre and Alan Furst.

I definitely liked this book (Thanks Cassi!) but it wasn't amazing. I love reading about espionage and the history of WWII was great. Boyd did a great job of explaining lots of the skills and techniques that spies use and that was also interesting.HOWEVER, i loved reading Eva's story but Ruth's (horrible name, especially when the Middle Eastern guy calls her Root) story was a bore for the most part. I still always wanted to keep listening though!I thought the pencil part in the new Batman movie was badass but the pencil part in this book kicked a lot of ass too.As an audiobook I thought the narrator (who is a British actress from Die Another Day) was of the best I've heard. The whole book is less than 10 hours which I appreciated. I think I'll read some more of Boyd's books.

I was introduced to Restless, and to William Boyd, by Richard Tulloch, the co-creator of the outstanding Australian kids series Bananas in Pyjamas. We were comparing notes on our best reads of the past twelve months. I was very glad for the introduction because I enjoyed Restless a lot. But not completely… Particularly thrilling is the recruitment to the British Secret Service of a young woman, Eva, in a state of emotional distress following the loss of her brother, who has been murdered and she is sad at the decline of her father. Eva is Russian and she is approached by Lucas Romer (like ‘roamer’…ie restless, bit of a clue), a figure of some mystery, impeccably and undeniably English. She becomes a spy and the best part of the book is the detail of her training and her first mission to infiltrate a high level meeting early in the war (World War Two) between the Dutch and the occupying Germans. It all goes horribly wrong and Eva has to flee. And she pretty much keeps on running except for a serious dalliance with Romer, ill-advised perhaps; he is her boss after all and says things like ‘trust no one, including me.’ I was intrigued and fascinated by the spy details especially the mechanics of information gathering, communication, identity change, covering your tracks and the need for a safe bolt hole should things go bad. Which they do. (view spoiler)[ Much less convincing is the contemporary story which takes us to the mid-seventies and is focussed on the now middle-aged grandmother Eva (now called Sally), who is always wary even in the sanctuary of her quiet English back water, who decides to let her daughter Ruth, herself a mother with a young child, in on her spy past. This is a bit creaky. It didn’t help that I am pretty much a contemporary of the Ruth character and so I was constantly checking the seventies references with the memories in my head.The story might have worked better if Boyd had stuck to the wartime spy story, but that is not really what he is interested in. He wants to explore what makes Romer into a double agent, a man brought up in privilege and comfort, with the trappings of success, yet who betrays his country. This is a Kim Philby, Burgess and MacLean slant. And this is much harder to pull off, because ultimately our plucky late middle-aged heroine simply threatens Romer with exposure and likely humiliation, which is sufficient to bring about his defeat. (hide spoiler)]
—Ian Laird

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