‘The secret lives of three characters on a 1960s film set make for the novelist’s funniest book in years’

WH Auden said of TS Eliot that three different figures coexisted within him: a conscientious churchwarden, a screaming peasant woman and a mischievous 12-year-old boy. Much the same is true of William Boyd, whose novels have consistently left readers wondering who the “real” author is. Some of his comic writing suggests a kinship with Evelyn Waugh as a farceur of rare talent, but other books hint that he is a very un-English talent indeed, as befits his upbringing in Ghana, Nigeria and Scotland. For all his skill at constructing page-turning narratives, there is an ostentatious delight in game-playing that almost makes him the novelistic equivalent of Tom Stoppard.

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