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Restless Hardcover – Sep 19 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada (Sept. 19 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679314784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679314783
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,258,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

When Ruth Gilmartin learns the true identity—and the WWII profession—of her aging mother, Sally Gilmartin, at the start of Boyd's elegant ninth novel (after Any Human Heart), Ruth is understandably surprised. Sally, née Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian émigré living in Paris in 1939, was recruited as a spy by Lucas Romer, the head of a secretive propaganda group called British Security Coordination, to help get America into the war. This fascinating story is well told, but slightly undercut by Ruth's less-than-dramatic life as a single mother teaching English at Oxford while pursuing a graduate degree in history. Ruth's more pedestrian existence can't really compete with her mother's dramatic revelations. The contemporary narrative achieves a good deal more urgency when Ruth's mother recruits her to hunt down the reclusive, elusive Romer. But the real story is Eva/Sally's, a vividly drawn portrait of a minor figure in spydom caught up in the epic events leading up to WWII. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

If an espionage thriller with terror tentacles reaching from pre-World War II to the present can be called a cozy, this is it. Boyd's latest novel moves back and forth from the heart of the British countryside and misty, romantic Edinburgh to prewar Paris and into various capitals during the conflict itself--all with a satisfying, Agatha Christie atmosphere. This is also a mother-daughter story set in 1976, with the daughter of an eccentric mother trying to figure out who wants to kill her mother, Sally Gilmartin. Boyd introduces a rather clunky literary device of having the mother give her daughter a manuscript that details her life as a WWII spy for the British Secret Service. Boyd's focus on Gilmartin's spy training and her behind-the-scenes propaganda work in New York to steer public opinion toward U.S. involvement in the war is fascinating. A somewhat clumsy narrative enlivened by some expertly generated suspense. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What a fun ride it was reading Restless by William Boyd. A bit of a mystery, a bit of an English spy story and a bit of a family drama all rolled into one. The book is broken into two narrative streams. The first is Ruth who teaches English to foreigners rather than finishing her doctorate. The second is the story of her mother Sally (real name Eva) who in fact, was a Russian who gets hooked into spying for the English immediately prior to and during World War II. The sections surrounding Ruth are fine and have the aura of a small town mystery story as she is surprised to learn about her mother's past, but it is really Eva's story we want to know about. Those sections crackle with a real sense of danger as Eva makes her way through the world of espionage while trusting no one. I liked the juxtaposition of Ruth's mundane, simple post-war life with the covert life of Eva, truly surviving only by her wits. I'll never look at a very sharp pencil the same way again. The story is clever, as are the historical twists and Boyd tells it in an engaging style. This is a something akin to a literary page turner and it's about the length that you could curl up one evening and devour whole.
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Format: Paperback
British author William Boyd is a master at writing novels that are extensive, intensive, complex and, overall, very satisfying in their conclusion. He does all this by focussing on making a life for the main character while developing a couple of sideshows meant to enrich the main plot over time. This formula plays out once again in this novel in the life of a British wartime spy named Eva who leads a footloose and adventurous existence in an attempt to outwit the enemy in a cat-and-mouse game of dire consequences. It is 1939 and, as an emigre hanging around a doomed Paris, Eva, suddenly becomes an unwitting member of a covert intelligence operated putatively committed to bringing the US into war on the British side. Eva is a single woman vulnerable to many emotions, not least the need to be loved. It will be Lucas Romer, her handler, who will become her lover as they move to America to pursue this mission. As the reader will learn, Romer is a traitor who has his own sinister plan for keeping America out of the war and is prepared to do anything, including throwing Eva under a bus. To reinforce this intriguing tale, Boyd introduces a subsequent narrative that takes place a generation or so later involving her daughter, Ruth, born out of the chaotic and fearful life she led with Romer. The similarities are so uncannily similar as to make the point that we are not alone when we travel through life. What Ruth discovers about her mother, through reading parts of her harrowing story of escape from danger, is that they share a tortuous life of travelling the world in search of love in the shadows of ever-present danger. This revelation allows her to better understand her mother’s similar need for peace. In the end, Eva, Ruth, and her son Jochem, get the satisfaction that justice, though cruel and whimsical, can offer a well-earned sense of vindication to those who patiently pursue the truth.
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Format: Audio CD
British actress Rosamund Pike is probably best known for playing the gal who caught James Bond's eye in Die Another Day. While that performance certainly grabbed audience attention, she has numerous other noteworthy credits both on stage and in films. She does another star turn as she inhabits two narrative voices in the 9th novel by William Boyd. He's been called "The finest storyteller of his generation," and Restless again demonstrates how splendidly he can spin a tale.

Set in Oxfordshire, England during 1976 our story opens with a bit of a shock - Sally Gilmartin gives her daughter, Ruth, a memoir she has penned. Ruth is amazed to learn that her mother is not at all who she believed her to be. In actuality, Sally Gilmartin is Eva Delectorskaya, A Russian who worked for the British Secret Service during World War II. Sally or Eva has guarded this secret well for almost 30 years.

Now, she is revealing the truth about herself to her daughter not because she wishes to be open but because she fears for her life and Ruth is the one person in the world she believes she can trust. Ruth is not only astounded but disbelieving, wondering if her mother may be delusional at the onset of old age. Nonetheless, for her mother's sake she tries to find Romer the man who recruited Sally/Eva and with whom she had an affair.

Restless is related in parallel stories, probably the most compelling are the accounts of Sally/Eva's enlistment, training, and experiences. Following the war she returns to England, adopts an identity and marries. She has every reason to believe her past is well behind her.

Not so!

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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