I’ve been enjoying working my way through William Boyd’s novels but although I enjoyed Waiting for Sunrise, I wouldn’t include this story amongst his best works.
The story starts with Lysander Reif, a “young, almost conventionally handsome man” visiting a psychologist in Vienna in 1913 for a sexual problem.
Lysander was quickly cured by an experimental treatment which the doctor called ‘Parallelism’. The treatment consisted of Lysander writing down his thoughts and memories, which then formed part of the narration. After discussing Lysander’s writings with him the doctor then hypnotised Lysander to create new memories which displaced various upsetting events in his past. I thought that Lysander’s heady affair with an attractive and sexually adventurous woman, Hettie Bull, may have effected his cure rather than Parallelism, but who knows?
Lysander’s romance with Hettie ended when her common-law husband discovered she was pregnant, at which point Hettie accused Lysander of rape rather than own up to the affair. An acquaintance from the British Embassy put up bail for Lysander on the proviso he was confined to the consulate, then helped him to escape and return to England.
Lysander’s escape came with a price, and as he was unable his bill from the Embassy, he was recruited to find a high-level traitor to Great Britain when World War One broke out to repay his debt. Lysander found himself waiting for sunrise in no man’s land hoping not to be shot at by his own country, England’s allies or the enemy. At other times he carried out mind-numbingly boring audits of war offices while trying to work out who the traitor was and who was bluffing who.
Spy novels, war stories or thrillers aren’t my preferred genre, so even though I enjoyed Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms which was also a thriller very much, I’ll probably avoid anything else Boyd writes in these genres. I’m hoping to read Brazzaville Beach next.