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The Blue Afternoon Paperback – January 14, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067977260X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679772606
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Boyd, the author of A Good Man in Africa and Brazzaville Beach, here gives us something entirely new, part suspense, part romance, all grand storytelling. A young woman, waylaid by an old man who claims to be her father, hears his story of corruption and intrigue as the two of them embark on a remarkable journey. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

An L.A. architect is drawn into a transcontinental, turn-of-the-century murder mystery and love story in Boyd's sure-footed novel.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

William Boyd is the author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; and Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year.

Customer Reviews

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See all 32 customer reviews
The opening lines of this book grabbed me like few others, compelling me to read on.
James Colyn (jacolyn@nobi.or.jp)
The novel's unconventional structure works beautifully with the writer's strong sense of story, character and suspense.
Otto Zappatore
The character development is well done and the description of the locals and events were intriguing.
Bren Bataclan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
A very unusual book which could be considered a period mystery, but stands as excellent literature on its own merits. The book starts in 1936 Los Angeles and follows a young woman architect for just enough pages for the reader to get interested in her. Then a mysterious man shows up and claims to be her father. After 70 pages she is then whisked away on a cross-Atlantic sea voyage to help her father find a woman in Lisbon. The bulk of the book then serves to explain why. In a slightly awkward device, the woman recounts, in prose form, what her father tells her about his life. This takes the reader to Manila in 1902 and follows a her father, as a doctor as he strives to bring modern medical practices to the Philippines, helps the occupying US Army investigate a series of gruesome murders, and watches his marriage fade away and maintain a love affair. There is also a subplot involving an attempt to build a flying machine. Events build to a crisis and collapse. By now the reader understands who the woman in Lisbon is and why she is important. Boyd's strength is building a complete description of time and place at the same time as he creates characters with great depth. This book won the LA Times Book Prize for Fiction.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "isobmagee" on January 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
As a woman, if you're ever so slightly bored of modern women writers, this is for you. William Boyd's achingly beautiful writing weaves an engrossing plot involving, but not limited to, a love story told from the man's point of view. And it's refreshing to read of a man's utter devotion, told ungushingly but with such feeling and realism. In addition to the love, there is the story set mostly in the Far East, a little murder, infidelity, characters which jump out at you but allow you to fill in the gaps.... and a prologue that will have you desperate to drop the kids off at school and leave them there all week while you finish. This is a book for everyone, and the only criticism is that you won't want to read anything else once you're done!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Superficially, it's tempting to pidgeonhole William Boyd's "The Blue Afternoon" as a thriller. For much of the way, you may find your heart racing and yourself thinking you can't put this down until you reach the end. But at the heart of this wonderfully entertaining novel is a romance, a romance so huge and heady it's almost redemptive in its force. The thriller elements of murder, blackmail and betrayal only create the opportunities and subtext for the great love affair to play out. Some readers may find the Salvador/Delphine affair surprising and even incredible. You wouldn't if you allow yourself the luxury of accepting Cupid's strange ways. But what's even more intriguing to me is Boyd's ability to generate a deep sense of sustained ambivalence in the treatment of his characters and their personal situations throughout the novel. You're never sure enough about any of them to rule anything out. For instance, Salvador's Filipino colleague, Pantaleon, shows a surprising side to him under pressure. Delphine also remains an enigma, right to the very end. Boyd's reluctance at a clear resolution perhaps hints at how he really wishes us to regard his novel, not as a "who dunnit" but as a sojourn with the human heart which needs Love and Romance to nourish and keep it alive. Kay, Salvador's daughter, isn't a technical devise or a red herring either. She may be an observer and peripheral to the plot which is told in flashbacks, but we are told she's one of two reasons why Salvador has managed to gain strength to survive his personal tragedy. "The Blue Afternoon" is an engaging and superbly written novel. Highly recommended reading.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
William Boyd, the author of "Brazzaville Beach" and "A Good Man in Africa", has written a tale of intrigue that takes us from the 1930s in Los Angeles to the late 1890s in the Philippines on a wild chase for the truth about a certain doctor's past. The tale opens with the confrontation between a budding female architect (most unlikely in 1936, but if you can get by that, the rest is easy) and an elderly man (the doctor) who claims to be her father. The story revolves around the doctor's need to eventually get to Lisbon in his efforts to locate someone.... during the trip to Portugal, he weaves the story for the architect and for us. The details of the grizzly war in the Philippines (and the behavior of the Americans there), the languid, filthy streets and neighborhoods of Manila, the medieval medical practices, and the complex world and class systems of Philippine society during the turn of the century all work together to make this a fantastic read. With little effort, this might even be a good movie!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By lazza on June 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
William Boyd is an excellent writer. The prose, characterizations and dialogue are uniformly excellent in all his books I've read, including 'The Blue Afternoon'. In this book we have, in effect, a romance between a doctor and a married woman ... plus a number of interesting side stories (murder, war, mayhem and yes, more romance). The 1903 Manila setting, just after the Spanish-American war, gives the story a historical and fascinating twist.

Like his other books, 'The Blue Afternoon' isn't an entirely believable read. But it is such a pleasurable story that one wishes it was all fact, not fiction. My only complaint with it is the ending. Some open-ended matters concerning subplots are not closed. The author has seemingly done this purposely to tease the reader. I wasn't teased, just annoyed. However this doesn't tarnish the overall pleasure of reading 'The Blue Afternoon'.

Bottom line: a rich, charming fable. Why it hasn't been made into a film is anyone's guess. Recommended to all.
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