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Stars and Bars

Henderson Dores is an Englishman in New York – and completely out of his depth.

He should be concentrating on his job as an art assessor, but his complicated personal life keeps intruding. And that’s before we even get to his sense of alienation, of being a fish out of water. For Henderson is a shy man lost in a country of extraverts and weirdos. Subway poets, loony millionaires, Bible-bashers and sharp-suited hoods stalk him wherever he goes. But it is only when he’s sent to America’s deep South to examine a rare collection of paintings that matters take a life-threatening turn. Still, if it doesn’t kill you, they say it can only make you stronger . . .

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An Ice-Cream War

An Ice-Cream War is William Boyd’s sparkling debut novel on the grimly comic side of conflict, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

‘What do you think would happen if I shot an elephant in the balls?’
‘I think it would hurt a great deal.’

Millions die on the Western Front but in East Africa a quite different war is being waged – one with little point and which is so ignored that it will carry on after the Armistice because no one bothers to tell both sides to stop.

As the conflict sweeps up natives and colonials, so those left at home and those fighting abroad find themselves unable to escape the tide of history bearing down on them.

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A Good Man in Africa

Escapee from suburbia, overweight, oversexed …

Morgan Leafy isn’t overburdened with worldly success. Actually, he is refreshingly free from it. But then, as a representative of Her Britannic Majesty in tropical Kinjanja, it was not very constructive of him to get involved in wholesale bribery. Nor was it exactly oiling his way up the ladder to hunt down the improbably pointed breasts of his boss’s daughter when officially banned from horizontal delights by a nasty dose …

Falling back on his deep-laid reserves of misanthropy and guile, Morgan has to fight off the sea of humiliation, betrayal and ju-ju that threatens to wash over him.

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The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth

A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs – seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter. And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth depicts the random encounters that bring the past bubbling to the surface; the impulsive decisions that irrevocably shape a life; and the endless hesitations and loss-of-nerve that wickedly complicate it. These funny, surprising and moving stories are a resounding confirmation of Boyd’s powers as one of our most original and compelling storytellers.

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The Dream Lover

Funny, moving and sharply observed, these stories are confirmation of Boyd’s status as one of English fiction’s finest writers. Here are twenty-four gripping tales told in bold, distinct voices from Brazil to Africa and from Nice to Hollywood. This eclectic collection by the acclaimed author of Restless andBrazzaville Beach is a must-read for any lover of the short story. Some of the stories have previously been published in On the Yankee Station and in The Destiny of Nathalie ‘X’.

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Fascination

This is William Boyd’s third volume of short stories following his acclaimed collections On the Yankee Station (1981) and The Destiny of Nathalie X (1995).

Described as “the finest storyteller of his generation”, Boyd shows his mastery of the form as these stories range widely through time and space. In a brilliant array of styles and narratives we move from 1930s Germany to Los Angeles in the Second World War, from contemporary Oxford to 19th century Russia. Whether in London or Amsterdam. Eastbourne or a Normandy village these stories explore and expose the fraught, funny, absurd, poignant and lovelorn lives of their many and varied characters.

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Restless

It is 1939. Eva Delectorskaya (Hayley Atwell) is a beautiful 28-year-old Russian émigrée living in Paris. As war breaks out she is recruited for the British Secret Service by Lucas Romer (Rufus Sewell), a mysterious Englishman, and under his tutelage she learns to become the perfect spy, to mask her emotions and trust no one, including those she loves most. Since the war, Eva (Charlotte Rampling in present day) has carefully rebuilt her life as a typically English 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, Ruth’s help (Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery).

Starring: Michael Gambon, Charlotte Rampling, Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell and Michelle Dockery.

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Any Human Heart

Winner of BAFTA Best Drama Serial at the BAFTA Television Awards 2011

An adaptation of William Boyd’s best-selling novel, Any Human Heart tells the story of Logan Mountstuart’s long and rackety life, one which spans every decade of the twentieth century, in all its fantastic and humdrum, dangerous and tranquil, tragic and humorous aspects.

The four films follow Logan from his time in Oxford; through literary marketsuccess with the publication of his ‘racy’ novel ‘The Girl Factory’; through numerous affairs and two marriages; one tragic true love; adventures as a spy behind enemy lines; flirtations with Wallis Simpson; encounters with Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming, sexual scandal in the New York art scene; destitution in Pimlico; unlikely heroism to a final and perhaps even contented death.

Longing

All things pass – is this your philosophy? Is there no room for love in your philosophy of life?

The first play by bestselling author William Boyd, Longing adapts two of Anton Chekhov’s short stories, A Visit to Friends and My Life, to weave a comic tale, at once exotic and familiar.

When Kolia is invited to visit his oldest friends on their Estate in the country he anticipates a pleasant break from Moscow life. But as the comedy of provincial life plays out around him, he finds himself adrift in a miasma of false expectations, missed opportunities, and unspoken passions.

 

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Adaptations of the work of classic Russian playwright Chekhov always have a lasting appeal beyond the life of the production. Drawn from these two short stories, Longing is unique in being a dramatic exploration of a work of Chekhov’s fiction, not simply a new adaptation of one of his plays.

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