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Waiting for Sunrise Hardcover – April 17, 2012

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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061876769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061876769
  • ASIN: 0061876763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“It’s ages since I read a novel that offers such breathlessly readable narrative enjoyment, such page-by-page storytelling confidence and solidity. Boyd has a positive genius for pace and description.” (The Independent)

“Always a smooth and expert storyteller, Boyd effortlessly combines historical detail with a sexy, galloping narrative that proves irresistible.” (People (4 stars))

“Boyd retrofits a genre full of familiar devices and character types with finer textures and deeper psychology than it typically boasts. . . . Waiting for Sunrise manages to conjure an atmosphere of genuine disorientation that most spy novels gesture toward and few, if any, attain.” (Laura Miller, Salon)

“Boyd is a born story teller whose clear, taut prose never gets in the way of his characters and their unpredictable fates.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Thoroughly entertaining. . . . Waiting for Sunrise has the pace of a spy thriller, with code-cracking and double-crossing aplenty.” (The New Yorker)

“Sex, psychiatry and Vienna on the eve of World War I - those are promising ingredients for a novel. And William Boyd makes the most of them. . . . Boyd’s narrative moves briskly, and his local color is deftly done.” (The Seattle Times)

“As ever with Boyd there is an effortlessness to the prose and a piercing acuity to the period detail and evocation of place, along with thrilling set pieces. . . .[This book] proves that rarest of beasts: a tantalizingly experimental work that is also an immensely satisfying page-turner.” (The Telegraph)

“This is the sort of novel you finish, then begin again to revisit your favourite bits. . . . More than anything Waiting for Sunrise is a gleeful celebration of storytelling -- sly, clever, frequently hilarious, always involving. . . . This is the literary event of the year.” (The Times (UK))

“A page-turner. . . . A thinking person’s thriller.” (Good Housekeeping)

Waiting for Sunrise retains a consistent intrigue and a splendidly intricate plot. . . . The denouement plays out with characteristic suspense and masterful design. . . . [Boyd has] a truly remarkable imagination.” (The Huffington Post)

“A literary thriller that genuinely thrills, a plot-driven novel assembled by a master of plotting. The deftness with which Boyd knits together a complex cast of characters is immaculate. . . . It demonstrates yet again this writer’s unrivalled versatility and consistency.” (The Financial Times)

“Superb. . . . To read a William Boyd novel is to open a bottle of wine, light a fire, sit back in your favourite armchair and trust that the master practitioner will take you on an intriguing and unpredictable journey. He’s done it again.” (The Spectator (UK))

“Fans of previous Boyd novels will find themselves on gratifyingly familiar ground in Waiting for Sunrise. . . . Few contemporary writers are able to evoke the ambiance and drama of our recent past as forcefully as Boyd. . . . Boyd’s prose is often radiant.” (The Washington Post Book World)

“An evocative mix of sex, spies, and psychoanalysis. . . . Fans of the author will love and recognize all the hallmarks of Boyd’s best books.” (CNN.com)

“A tantalizing, fast-paced spy novel. . . . As seductive as it is, Waiting for Sunrise is no bodice-ripper. It’s a brainteaser, charged with uncertainty and danger, electric with restraint.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Powerfully entertaining. . . . Boyd’s ability to evoke a sense of time and place is unmatched. . . . He has been perfecting the craft of globetrotting entertainment for the past three decades.” (The Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“A thoughtfully plotted story, whose twists and turns reveal the price its characters pay in trust. . . . Boyd is a nimble and entertaining writer.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Waiting for Sunrise does the neat trick of evolving from a historical romance into a seat-of-the-pants spy thriller. . . . This is Boyd’s stage, on which he is a virtuoso.” (The San Antonio Express-News)

“The narrative in this novel is almost seamless. . . . This atmospheric novel is elegantly crafted by a London writer who serves up a rich portrayal of human psychology and a plot that is both engaging and imaginative.” (The Tucson Citizen)

From the Back Cover

Vienna, 1913. Lysander Rief, a young English actor in town seeking psychotherapy for a troubling ailment of a sexual nature, becomes caught up in a feverish affair with a beautiful, enigmatic woman. When she goes to the police to press charges of rape, however, he is stunned, and his few months of passion come to an abrupt end. Only a carefully plotted escape—with the help of two mysterious British diplomats—saves him from trial.

But the frenzied getaway sets off a chain of events that steadily dismantles Lysander's life as he knows it. He returns to a London on the cusp of war, hoping to win back his onetime fiancée and banish from memory his traumatic ordeals abroad, but Vienna haunts him at every turn. The men who helped coordinate his escape recruit him to carry out the brutal murder of a complete stranger. His lover from Vienna shows up nonchalantly at a party, ready to resume their liaison. Unable to live an ordinary existence, he is plunged into the dangerous theater of wartime intelligence—a world of sex, scandal, and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code that is threatening Britain's safety, and use all his skills to keep this murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.

Moving from Vienna to London's West End, from the battlefields of France to hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a mesmerizing journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller, and a literary tour de force.

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Certain moments in history seem laden with a sense of the loss of innocence, a transition from certainty and security to confusion, bafflement, and loss. It's only an illusion-- the world has always been the vast and inscrutable place it is now-- but the illusion is a powerful one, and allows for great historical fiction in which individual and national coming-of-age are combined, creating something that's both grounded in a particular time and place and insightful about timeless issues and themes. Such a novel is William Boyd's Waiting for Sunrise, in which Europe prior to and during World War I provides the background for one man's journey into the darkness of the unknown and the unknowable.

That man is Lysander Rief, an English actor who in 1913 travels to Vienna in the hope that the new-fangled science of psychoanalysis will help him resolve an embarrassing problem. Even as he makes progress on that front, a chance meeting with one of his analyst's fellow patients begins a sequence of events that creates the potential for much worse problems. Revealing too much more about the plot would spoil the pleasure of its development; suffice it to say that Waiting for Sunrise turns out to be something of an espionage novel, though one that's as much about the psychology of its protagonist and his times as it is about discovering spies and defusing bombs.

As the novel begins Lysander is a typical young man from a comfortable family background: good-natured and with a basic moral sense, but willing to pursue pleasure where he can find it, and largely ignorant of the complexities that can develop from seemingly-simple situations like his trip to Vienna.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn A. Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Waiting for Sunrise: A Novel by William Boyd is an utterly unique sort of reader-interactive, page turning plot twister, audacious and evocative like no other fiction I have ever read before. I finished reading the book days ago but still I continue to think about this splendidly enthralling novel, turning it over and over again in my mind, asking myself the same questions, trying to work out the puzzles left undone, following loose threads, wondering if the trickster was really unmasked and the mystery truly solved.

The protagonist of the story is an English dandy named Lysander Rief, an ordinary young man whose intelligence, handsomeness and talent for dramatic acting are all three undistinguishing. A man fraught with human frailties, Lysander is a non-extraordinary stage player by vocation, whose destiny will thrust him into extraordinary circumstances requiring him to rise to a role he is reluctant to take on- first as a soldier, then as a spy- to do good for the benefit of his country, to become a real hero of World War I.

Rief's plunge into this unexpected foray of heroism leaves him stranded between two worlds... of reality and imagination, of darkness and light, of black and white, of the edge of night and the break of day-in the shadows, waiting for sunrise.

Part espionage thriller, part World War I military history, part detective mystery, part psychological drama, this riveting, nontraditional novel is also an examination of politics- social, sexual, psychological and emotional. It is a long, twisted journey into the human psyche, acidly observant and intriguingly rich enough to be savored intently and pondered long after the journey is finished.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By schmettajames VINE VOICE on February 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Once again, William Boyd has written an absolutely terrific novel. The story begins in 1913 in Vienna, where a young English actor, Lysander Reif, is seeking psychoanalysis to cure a sexual problem. Reif encounters a troubled young woman and a member of the British consulate in the analyst's waiting room--both of whom will play important roles in his future. Reif immerses himself in Viennese culture and brushes up on his language skills as he undergoes the talking cure. Soon the troubled young woman, Hettie Bull, will embroil Reif in a torrid affair that ends in tears when he is arrested and charged with raping her. Reif's contact at the British embassy comes to his rescue and assists him in escaping from Austria. Reif's debt to the British government will be paid in full when he is ordered to use his acting and language skills to spy during World War I.

In Waiting for Sunrise, Boyd demonstrates his incredible skills at writing a strong narrative. The plot is intricate without being difficult to follow because of the writer's excellent way with prose. Boyd shows his inventiveness by having Reif be an actor. Who better to cast in the role of a spy than a man who makes a living posing as another person?

In addition to a fast-paced, engrossing narrative, Boyd creates memorable characters and atmosphere. The novel works on many levels. It is a thrilling spy adventure and great historical fiction (Vienna just before the war, the battlefields of France, and the War Office in London). But Boyd takes the reader into deeper philosophical waters as we consider who can be trusted and, indeed, what is real. This is a fabulous book.
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