Waiting For Sunrise

Vienna. 1913. It is a fine day in August when Lysander Rief, a young English actor, walks through the city to his first appointment with the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Bensimon. Sitting in the waiting room he is anxiously pondering the nature of his problem when an extraordinary woman enters. She is clearly in distress, but Lysander is immediately drawn to her strange, hazel eyes and her unusual, intense beauty.

Later the same day they meet again, and a more composed Hettie Bull introduces herself as an artist and sculptor, and invites Lysander to a party hosted by her lover, the famous painter Udo Hoff. Compelled to attend and unable to resist her electric charm, they begin a passionate love affair. Life in Vienna becomes tinged with the frisson of excitement for Lysander. He meets Sigmund Freud in a café, begins to write a journal, enjoys secret trysts with Hettie and appears to have been cured.

London, 1914. War is stirring, and events in Vienna have caught up with Lysander. Unable to live an ordinary life, he is plunged into the dangerous theatre of wartime intelligence – a world of sex, scandal and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code which is threatening Britain’s safety, and use all his skills to keep the murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.

Moving from Vienna to London’s west end, the battlefields of France and hotel rooms in Geneva,Waiting for Sunrise is a feverish and mesmerising journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller and a literary tour de force from the bestselling author of Any Human HeartRestless and Ordinary Thunderstorms.

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‘It’s the sort of novel you finish, then begin again to revisit your favourite bits… More than anything Waiting for Sunrise is a gleeful celebration of storytelling – sly, clever, frequently hilarious, always involving… this is the literary event of the year.’ John O’Connell, The Times

‘Boyd guides the reader with a master’s hand.  It’s ages since I read a novel that offers such breathlessly readable narrative enjoyment, such page-by-page storytelling confidence and solidity.  Boyd has a positive genius for pace and description.’ John Walsh, The Independent

‘As ever with Boyd there is an effortlessness to the prose and a piercing acuity to the period detail and evocation of place, along with thrilling set pieces…  Waiting for Sunrise proves that rarest of beasts: a tantalisingly experimental work that is also an immensely satisfying page-turner.’ Adam O’Riordan,The Daily Telegraph

‘Martin Amis’s mother, Hilly, once told me in an interview that, much as she admired her son, she wished he would turn out “proper novels” in the manner of William Boyd. Having just finished Boyd’s new novel, Waiting for Sunrise, to be published next month, I see her point. It is about as pleasurable as a book can be. The plot is irresistible; an actor turned intelligence officer searching for a traitor during the first world war. The action is set in London, France and Vienna and there is a psychosexual subplot, with a walk-on part for Sigmund Freud. What more could you ask? Boyd has a lucid, vigorous prose style that never eclipses the action. His main character, Lysander Rief, has the moral ambiguity of Logan Mountstuart, from Boyd’s 2002 novel Any Human Heart. It is almost 100 years since the start of the first world war yet it has not lost its potency for novelists. William Boyd will be up against a new, contemporary, satirical novel by Martin Amis this year. I am backing Boyd’ Sarah Sands, The Financial Times

‘Waiting for Sunrise, which starts in the world of Kafka and Schnitzler, ends in a world so Le Carré-esque it reads almost like a homage… After the intriguing psycho-sexual foreplay of the first section the remaining four parts constitute a literary thriller that genuinely thrills, a plot-driven novel assembled by a master of plotting.  The deftness with which Boyd knits together a complex cast of characters across scattered locations and an extended time period is immaculate… It demonstrates yet again this writer’s unrivalled versatility and consistency.’ William Sutcliffe, The Financial Times

‘There are few more reliable literary pleasures than a Boyd novel. Over three decades he has established himself as one of Britain’s most popular and highly regarded novelists … He is a novelist who writes intelligent books about plausible and fully rounded characters, brimming with challenging ideas and themes. Above all, he is a storyteller nonpareil’ Daily Telegraph

‘[Waiting for Sunrise] is superb; hand-on-heart, may-the Lord-strike-me-down terrific… To read a William Boyd novel is to open a bottle of wine, light a fire, sit back in your favourite armchair and trust that the master practitioner will take you on an intriguing and unpredictable journey.  He’s been doing it for years and with Waiting for Sunrise he’s done it again.’ Charles Cumming, The Spectator

‘A gripping story… The sense of place is remarkable’ Keith Miller, Daily Telegraph

‘Boyd is a master storyteller, and his new novel set during WWI explores psychiatry and espionage (and love)’ GQ Magazine

‘Continues to prove he’s a brilliant, though somewhat reluctant, spy novelist with this early First World War tale of passion, espionage and betrayal’ Daily Mirror

‘First-rate entertainment’ Woman and Home

‘Stylishly written … But Boyd has always known how to construct a plot. Waiting for Sunrise moves with suitably Swiss precision.’ Adrian Turpin Literary Review

‘A far more action-packed romantic thriller, full of bodices, bangs and bullets… This is much more than an entertaining romantic thriller from the country’s most undervalued writer. It is also a psychological odyssey in which Rief comes to discover that human mind is endlessly baffling, complex – and perverse’ Tatler

‘From its breathily cinematic title to its dramatis personae of double-agents, demi-monde rakes and shady femmes fatales, Waiting for Sunrise is a romp, in which one man’s personal transformation reflects the general wartime upending of social mores … pacy, involving and crisply written … Boyd is skilled at creating page-turning plots’ Scotland on Sunday

‘Stylishly written … Waiting for Sunrise moves with suitably Swiss precision … The supporting cast drop in and out with the preordained pattern of figures on a giant ornamental clock. What a clock it is, though! It’s impossible not to be awed by the intricate cogs, wheels and levers of the mechanism’ Adrian Turpin, Literary Review

‘Epic, captivating’ Charlotte Sinclair, Vogue