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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Restless: A Novel Paperback – May 29, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 262 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Ruth Gilmartin learns the true identity—and the WWII profession—of her aging mother, Sally Gilmartin, at the start of Boyd's elegant ninth novel (after Any Human Heart), Ruth is understandably surprised. Sally, née Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian émigré living in Paris in 1939, was recruited as a spy by Lucas Romer, the head of a secretive propaganda group called British Security Coordination, to help get America into the war. This fascinating story is well told, but slightly undercut by Ruth's less-than-dramatic life as a single mother teaching English at Oxford while pursuing a graduate degree in history. Ruth's more pedestrian existence can't really compete with her mother's dramatic revelations. The contemporary narrative achieves a good deal more urgency when Ruth's mother recruits her to hunt down the reclusive, elusive Romer. But the real story is Eva/Sally's, a vividly drawn portrait of a minor figure in spydom caught up in the epic events leading up to WWII. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

If an espionage thriller with terror tentacles reaching from pre-World War II to the present can be called a cozy, this is it. Boyd's latest novel moves back and forth from the heart of the British countryside and misty, romantic Edinburgh to prewar Paris and into various capitals during the conflict itself--all with a satisfying, Agatha Christie atmosphere. This is also a mother-daughter story set in 1976, with the daughter of an eccentric mother trying to figure out who wants to kill her mother, Sally Gilmartin. Boyd introduces a rather clunky literary device of having the mother give her daughter a manuscript that details her life as a WWII spy for the British Secret Service. Boyd's focus on Gilmartin's spy training and her behind-the-scenes propaganda work in New York to steer public opinion toward U.S. involvement in the war is fascinating. A somewhat clumsy narrative enlivened by some expertly generated suspense. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596912375
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596912373
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a spy novel, not a thriller, and there is a real difference between the two genres. Think John LeCarre and Graham Greene, not Robert Ludlum and Ken Follet. With the spy novel, you have the ever-so-slow peeling of layers, deeper characterizaion, a frequent sense of foreboding and, until all is revealed, some confusion. The thriller, in contrast, is the page-turning, up-all-night, action-packed adventure that you can't put down. After finishing a thriller, you are likely to say "where can I get another fix," but not to reflect on what you have just read, and if you try, you may not remember and, if you do, it may not make sense. With the spy novel, you may want to wait a while before reading another, but you will spend some time reflecting on what you've just read, and it provokes you in a more serious, literary way.

I like both genres but find it important to orient my expectations going in.

For the spy novel genre, Restless would have to rank among my favorites. In addition to the terrific writing, the likeable-but-far-from-perfect heroines and the World War II intrigue, the novel offers some additional pleasures.

First, it is quintissentially British. The book involves, among other things, a single mother raising her son, the world of Oxford academia, and all sorts of emotionally powerful events. These all come across with the British stoicism, stiff-upper-lipism and "no winging (whining)" ethic that make the book very different from an American treatment of the identical plot. Not better, or worse, just different and thus very interesting to the American reader. The cultural difference (accurately renedered I should say) is a fascinating sidelight for the American reader.

Second, the author employed heroines rather than heroes.
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Format: Paperback
Over the last twenty years, William Boyd has, for me, been among the most consistent writers of narrative fiction. There have been books that will stand the test of time (New Confessions) and ones that already seem dated (Stars and Bars), but Restless finds him in good form. Boyd, as flexible as ever, turns his attention to the spy genre. We are presented with a double narrative, mother and daughter. The plot is hampered by a slightly overwrought literary device, the mother doling out her diaries at intervals, conveniently allowing the author to flip back and forth in time. Still, Boyd remains a wonderful writer. His characters are incisive, full blooded and captivating, even the ones we're not supposed to like. Boyd, like McEwan, manages the perfect blend of literature and thriller and Restless reads very quickly. That alone is a reason to buy it, but add in the Paris of 1939, spymasters and double dealings and Boyd is on to another winner.
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Format: Paperback
Cannot fathom the 4 stars reviews; especially the reviewer who states: "plot is hampered by a slightly overwrought literary device, the mother doling out her diaries at intervals, conveniently allowing the author to flip back and forth in time." The device is brilliant. You want to read straight forward and mundane, well, stick to Ludlum or Silva or whomever. The discerning reader will note the author's subtlety and craft. His slight of hand if you will. The slow way the substance of the tale is revealed. It's like being lost in a forest. You believe you know which path to take out. The sun is shining. You come upon a meadow here, a brook there. No, wrong way. It is only when all is revealed and you are safely out that you say, well, I knew where I was all the time. But, you didn't. Boyd never disappoints. I stumbled upon him long ago when I read The Ice Cream War. His novels are all dissimilar. He's vastly underrated because he's so accessible. I cannot wait to see what he gives us next.
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Format: Paperback
When Ruth, a single mother and teacher of English as a Second Language, goes to Middle Ashton to visit her mother, Sally Gilmartin, in 1976, she receives a surprise. When Ruth is ready to go home, Sally gives her a folder entitled _The Story of Eva Delectorskaya_. Ruth has never heard of Eva--until her mother stuns her by announcing, "I am Eva Delectorskaya." Sally believes that someone is trying to kill her, and she wants Ruth to help her find Lucas Romer, her former boss in a British spy agency, during World War II.

The novel which ensues from the additional folders Eva gives to Ruth alternates between Ruth's life in the 1970s and the life of Eva Delectorskaya from 1939 through 1942. A Russian émigré to Paris, Eva is recruited by British intelligence, and once she has been trained (and has removed all traces of a foreign accent from her voice), she is sent to Belgium, where she works for Agence d'Information Nadal, a front organization which plants disinformation which the allies hope the Germans will accept as truth. Later she goes to Holland with Lucas Romer, her boss, and eventually to Manhattan.

Ruth's life, far more plebeian than Eve's, revolves around her teaching of foreign students, her care for her son, her friendship with Hamid Kazemi, an Iranian student and engineer, and her involvement in activist politics. When Ruth succeeds in locating Lucas Romer, the two story lines come together in a grand climax.

Always a master of narrative pacing, Boyd keeps the story moving smartly, though Eve's story is far more interesting and more involving than Ruth's. His ability to recreate the atmosphere of Europe and the US in 1942 makes for lively reading as he explores some of the lesser known intrigues by British intelligence.
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