Sweet Caress by William Boyd

bookshelves: published-2015, radio-4, autumn-2015, lit-richer, art-forms

Read from December 20, 2014 to October 03, 2015


Read by the lovely Barbara Flynn who you may remember from The Beiderbecke Affair

Description: In 1915, Amory’s uncle unknowingly sets her life on its course when he gives her a Kodak Brownie No. 2 as a present for her seventh birthday, igniting a lifelong passion for photography. Her camera will take her from high society London in the 1920s to the cabaret clubs and brothels of inter-war Berlin; to 1930s New York, the Blackshirt riots in London’s East End, and to France and Germany during the Second World War, where she becomes one of the first female war photographers.

She eventually comes to rest on a remote Scottish island, where she drinks, writes and looks back on a personal life that has been just as rich and complex as her professional one. She remembers the men that have been closest to her – her father, her brother, her lovers – irreparably scarred by two world wars, and reflects upon her own experiences of conflict and loss, passion and joy.

1/10: In 1915, Amory receives a camera from Uncle Greville for her birthday

2/10: Amory goes to work for her Uncle, photographing high society events.

3/10: Amory heads to Berlin in search of scandal.

4/10: Returning from Berlin and Amory’s plans to scandalise prove all too succesful.

5/10: Amory begins a new chapter, and a new relationship, in New York

6/10: Amory learns the full consequences of the Maroon St Riot

7/10: Amory receives terrible news and is forced to travel to France in search of answers

8/10: Amory’s life takes an unexpected turn after the handsome officer tracks her down in Paris

9/10: Frustrated with life in Scotland Amory heads into the field once more

10/10: As her health declines, Amory wonders whether she should carry on.

Of course I was going to love this: WB hits the spot again. No need to travel through this book with a note-pad and critical eye, just sit back and enjoy it in the way that really good fiction should be read. Just one pertinent observation, ‘Sweet Caress’ does follow the same-ish template as ‘Any Human Heart’ and if you liked that you will enjoy this.

Guardian review

5* Sweet Caress
4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart
TR Waiting for Sunrise
4* Ordinary Thunderstorms
4* Brazzaville Beach
2* Solo
3* Armadillo
3* A Haunting


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