Friday, January 25, 2008

Listened to: "Restless" by Willaim Boyd

Listened to Restless by William Boyd, 2006, downloaded from Overdrive.

Very good. This reminded of Alan Furst's books. Pretty decent narration too.

Ruth Gilmartin is a single mom in 1976 Oxford, England. Ruth is a full time English-as-a-second-language tutor for engineers and other professionals. Ruth's mother, Sally, lives in a remote village and gives Ruth the first part of her autobiography. Ruth is shocked at Sally's life before marriage. To begin with, her real name is Eva Delectorskaya and secondly, she was a British spy during World War Two.

Eva's family were White Russians who ended up in Paris. In 1939 Eva's brother was killed at a political rally and Eva was recruited by an Englishman who says her brother was murdered while working for British Intelligence. Trained in Scotland Eva first works in Paris generating false news stories for propaganda. After the continent is conquered by the Germans Eva does the same job in New York City. On a simple courier assignment to New Mexico Eva is almost murdered. She kills her assassin and returns to New York knowing there is a mole in her group. Eva flees her work and colleagues to Canada and lives under a false name until she can travel back to England in anonymity.

After reading several Furst novels about World War Two espionage and Soviet intelligence I was expecting the bad guy and could easily tell who it was. There were not many major characters to choose from anyway.

There is a very brief author interview at the end where Boyle says he made up all the spy training. I thought that was interesting. He came up with the novel while writing an ex-spy character for another novel and wondered how a person trained to deceive, to expect deception, to trust no one, and always be paranoid would live life afterwards. (Something also covered by the John Rain series.) Boyle thought a mother-daughter relationship would be an interesting take.

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