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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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The Blue Afternoon Paperback – January 14, 1997

4.0 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 5.2 x 0.8 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 (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You might not like all of William Boyd's novels, but you can never criticize his work for lacking originality or interesting characters. "The Blue Afternoon" certainly sits firmly in unusual context(s)--the Philippines 1903, Los Angeles and Lisbon 1936--and boasts some fascinating characters. In the latter category, the principals include a Filipino/Scottish surgeon, an American married woman who is the love of his life, a 30-something daughter who he has never seen and a Filipino anesthesiologist who aspires to be the first man to fly. There are abundant meaty secondary characters in support of the story.

Largely a tale of passionate but thwarted love, the storyline is intelligent and credible despite the exotic settings and extreme ambitions and actions of its characters. As always with Boyd's books, you find yourself saying, "man, how did he come up with this stuff?" He is truly a fine writer with outsized imagination and creativity.
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