Any Human Heart

  • by William Boyd
  • Narrated by Mike Grady
  • 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart's - lived from the beginning to the end of the 20th century - contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in '60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full - and a journey deep into a very human heart.


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I really struggled through this book. I continued for 3/4 because a friend loved it but I hated it. The main character was shallow and bland but not in any sort of well-rounded or intelligent way. I felt like I was stuck in a pathetic male fantasy where first this woman, throws herself at him and then the next, (for no perceptible reason other than it would be pleasant for some to imagine it) the differences between the women being breast shape and skin colour. Then the plot was just a roaming fantasy about bumping into Earnest Heminway and any other famous figure William Boyd has probably ever wondered about. Awful, awful, awful.

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- Lauenna

Fictitious autobiography of a 'preppy' life

The book is the autobiography of the fictional character, Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, starting with his private schooling, his time studying history at Oxford University and his marginally successful careers as a writer, journalist, translator, spy and art dealer. Through Mountstuart’s experiences, it chronicles many major historical and intellectual movements of the 20th century, including the Spanish civil war, the second world war (initially as a spy to Duke and Duchess in Bahamas and then to report on German activities in Switzerland which resulted in him becoming a POW for 2years), post-war America (as a gallery owner in New York), post war Britain (as an NHS patient), the civil war in North-East Nigeria (as a literature professor) and finally reporting for German leftist revolutionary factions before his heart attack in the early 90’s.

At various junctures in his life Mountstuart meets a number famous real-life characters, not least of all Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Jackson Pollack, Ian Flemming (his spy-recruiter) and, as mentioned earlier, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I enjoyed the episodes featuring actual events and celebrities in which Mountstuart plays a fictitious part which almost made his existence plausible. I even found myself researching how many of these events actually happened eg. Did the Duke and Duchess of Windsor really refuse to go to the Bahamas during WW2 unless their valet was released from active service in order to accompany them?

The protagonist Mountstuart was selfish, sex obsessed and alcohol fuelled man, as such it was hard to sympathise with the tragedies in his life. It is difficult to believe that despite the many humorous incidents (and there were many), the historical events and rich selection of characters, the book didn’t sustain my interest, and each time I stopped listeningI found it harder to work up the enthusiasm to start again. Although this book was not really for me, I can appreciate how well it was researched and written. I would definitely read another book by William Boyd.
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- Mrs

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-10-2011
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks