Any Human Heart by William Boyd

How have I managed to get this far in life without reading William Boyd? I was handed a copy of Any Human Heart a few weeks ago by my friend Sally Woodward Gentle, a film producer, who turned the book into TV some years ago. I missed that too. Anyway I was gripped from the start by the diaries of Logan Mountstuart who charts the ebb and flow of his life which spans the 20th century. William Boyd is a beautiful writer. I found myself jotting down quotes and wonderful words that he used – lubricious, miasma, quiescent – storing them away for future use. There’s something humbling about following a life from start to finish, through its highs and lows, through history, through loves and losses. Logan Mountstuart may be a fictional character but real characters are woven into his story from Edward and Mrs Simpson to Picasso and Virginia Woolf. I read the 500 or so pages in a week, eager to get back to Logan every time I had to put the book down. My only problem is that when, with 20 pages to go,  I went into Daunt books and told them I was about to finish it and wanted another Boyd book to read…the very knowledgeable man behind the counter looked at me with concern and said “Any Human Heart” is his best. 

13 thoughts on “Any Human Heart by William Boyd

  1. Fantastic writer – by far his best in my (humble) opinion is Brazzaville Beach – give it a try!

      1. I enjoyed Restless…my husband has enjoyed many William Boyd books.

  2. Brazzaville Beach has stayed in my head for years. A wonderful book.

  3. I read Sweet Caress by William Boyd in 2016 – I thought it was one of your recommendations! Obviously not! Superb book – you should read it.

  4. He is just one of our very best writers: Any Human Heart, Restless, Brazzaville Beach, Waiting for Sunrise, Sweet Caress are all superb. A Good Man in Africa is a hoot too.

  5. I read “Any Human Heart” a few years ago and reread it last year – still my favourite book.
    You might also like Olivia Manning’s
    “The Balkan Trilogy”, if you haven’t already read it.

  6. I finished this book last night and feel bereft – I will really miss Logan. Superb writing and I tend to agree with Daunts (although I did enjoy An Icecream War) that it is Boyd at his best. What on earth to read next?!

  7. I loved William Boyd
    I had totally forgotten about him
    Thank you for the reminder ☺️

  8. Not sure where else to contact you as I do not use Twitter. Have you read “Call of the Curlew” by Elizbeth Brooks? Spellbinding and I think just up your street.

  9. Of all the books you’ve recommended that I’ve read, Any Human Heart is one of my favourites. I scored it 10 out of 10! What an achievement; a long, quality, descriptive, immersive read of Logan’s life. Truly felt real.
    Loved the way it stretched from 1906 to 1991, with references to real life people he met along the way. Very clever. As the blurb says ” A work of astonishing, ventriloquistic virtuosity”!!

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