Restless by William Boyd

Rule N°3 of happy reading: always give an author another chance to please

Restless was the second William Boyd I read, and I much preferred it to the first one, which was Brazzaville Beach. I saw the BBC adaptation first and enjoyed it (despite not liking Charlotte Rampling much, I have to admit she did a good job of the older Eva, the heroine) and read the book to find out whether there was “more to it”. There wasn’t, really, so kudos to the BBC for a good adaptation.

Of course, having the filmed characters superimposed on my brain as I read was a distraction, but because I had enjoyed the film, it was not really an annoyance. No trouble joining the dots this time round, I just had to exercise a little mental agility to work out who was bluffing whom in what is essentially a spy drama, which spans both war and peace time.

Reviewing the plot in much greater detail would give it away, but the basic storyline is that we follow a young French woman of Russian origin who enrolls after her brother’s death in His Majesty’s secret services in the early 1930s, is active as a spy during the war in the UK and elsewhere; and we follow in parallel her older self, who now has a grown up daughter and a young grandson and who lives holed up in a cottage not too far away from Oxford.

It made for an attractive “period piece” (or rather two periods, the thirties/forties and the seventies) on screen and it made for an enjoyable read too.

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