Set on a Brighton film set in 1968, this showbiz story is intricate and funny – but should William Boyd be taking more risks?
Trio is William Boyd’s 16th novel – and that’s before we get on to the dozen or so screenplays for film and television. How does someone produce so much work? I don’t know the man’s personal circumstances, but he must have angel armies who ring his desk and fend off what Flaubert – referring to everyday life – called “the tide of shit”. Boyd is nearly 70 and started publishing in the early 1980s; this book, then, must fall under that august moniker, “late work”.
The trio of Boyd’s title are Elfrida Wing, Talbot Kydd and Anny Viklund – a once-successful novelist who has writer’s block and a secret alcohol problem, a film producer who is covertly gay and a film star who is quietly on all kinds of pills while having a clandestine affair with her co-star. The year is 1968. The three stories are intertwined, the main ostensible narrative being the shooting in Brighton of a film produced by Kydd, starring Viklund and directed by Wing’s husband.