Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2006 Costa Winner

Restless by William Boyd


Publisher: Quercus

Length: 450 pages

About: Final assignment for old female spy

Style: 1st and 3rd person

Where: England, France, Belgium, US & Canada

When: 1939 & 1976



Publisher’s synopsis:

It is 1939. Eva Delectorskaya is a beautiful 28-year-old Russian émigré living in Paris. As war breaks out she is recruited for the British Secret Service…she becomes the perfect spy…Since the war, Eva has carefully rebuilt her life as a typically Englsih wife and mother. But once a spy, always a spy. Now she must complete one final assignment, and this time Eva can’t do it alone: she needs her daughter’s help.



When I was a child and was being fractious and contrary and generally behaving badly, my mother used to rebuke me by saying: ‘One day someone will come and kill me and then you’ll be sorry’….




Boyd creates a wonderful appearance of candour in a narrative that is actually packed with twists and double meanings. Eva writes her own account of her career as a spy many years later and gives it to her daughter, Ruth, in a succession of buff folders.

For full review click here

The Guardian, Helen Dunmore , 16th September 2006


Not so good

Instead of being interestingly established as a 1970s counterpart to her courageous mother, and granted a story of equal dramatic weight, she and her promising material become nothing more than padding for an oddly unsatisfactory denouement. It cannot have been cheap for Bloomsbury to lure Boyd away from Penguin; they could surely have afforded an editor with sufficient courage to tell him that the acquisition needed another draft.

Click here for full review

The Independent, Patrick Gale, 1st September 2006




About the author

Born 7th March 1952

in Accra, Ghana, and spent his early life in Ghana and Nigeria. He was educated at Gordonstoun school; and then the University of Nice, France, the University of Glasgow, and finally Jesus College, Oxford. Between 1980 and 1983 he was a lecturer in English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and it was while he was there that his first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), was published.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005. In August 2014, Boyd was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.


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Age guide: PG



Books by same author:


    A Good Man in Africa; Hamish Hamilton, 1981

    On the Yankee Station and Other Stories; Hamish Hamilton, 1981

    An Ice-Cream War; Hamish Hamilton, 1982

    Stars and Bars; Hamish Hamilton, 1984

    The New Confessions; Hamish Hamilton, 1987

    Brazzaville Beach; Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990

    The Blue Afternoon; Sinclair-Stevenson, 1993

    The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' and Other Stories; Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995

    Armadillo; Hamish Hamilton, 1998

    Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960; 21 Publishing, 1998

    Any Human Heart; Hamish Hamilton, 2002

    Fascination (collection of short stories); Hamish Hamilton, 2004

    Ordinary Thunderstorms; Bloomsbury, 2009

    Waiting for Sunrise; Bloomsbury, 2012

    Solo; Jonathan Cape 2013




BBC film 2012




2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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