Blue Afternoon

( 1 )

Overview

The author of A Good Man in Africa and Brazzaville Beach now gives us his most ambitious and seductive novel to date - part suspense, part romance, all grand storytelling. It is told in flashback. It opens in Hollywood of the 1930's, where the narrator - a young woman, an architect - is approached by an elderly man who claims to be her father. He persuades her to accompany him to Lisbon in search of the woman who was the great lost love of his life. And on the journey he tells the story of what happened to him ...
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The Blue Afternoon: Volume 1

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Overview

The author of A Good Man in Africa and Brazzaville Beach now gives us his most ambitious and seductive novel to date - part suspense, part romance, all grand storytelling. It is told in flashback. It opens in Hollywood of the 1930's, where the narrator - a young woman, an architect - is approached by an elderly man who claims to be her father. He persuades her to accompany him to Lisbon in search of the woman who was the great lost love of his life. And on the journey he tells the story of what happened to him decades before when he was a surgeon in war-torn Manila. It is a story of intrigue played out against the exotic, violent background of the Philippines in 1902; a story of medicine; of the murder of American soldiers; of the magical creation of a flying machine. It is the story of a sinister web of conspiracy spun by the old guard at Manila's great hospital as the young surgeon stands alone against intransigence and corruption. And at the heart of the book, marvelously told: the grand passion that draws him into an unknown world of infinite danger.

From the author of A Good Man in Africa and Brazzaville Beach comes an ambitious and seductive novel--part suspense, part romance, all grand storytelling. Told in flashbacks, the story travels from 1930's Hollywood to the exotic, violent world of the Philippines in 1902, telling a tale of medicine, the murder of American soldiers, and the creation of a magical flying machine.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Boyd's new novel should carry a label advising readers that an intriguing narrative is initially obscured beneath a plot device that almost ruins the whole thing: in 1936, Los Angeles architect Kay Fisher is approached by elderly Salvadore Carriscant, who tells her he's her father and whisks her off on an improbable journey to Lisbon. Despite that unconvincing framing section, a fascinating love story-cum-murder mystery occupies the heart of the narrative, which flashes back to 1902 Manila. There, the young Carriscant, a brilliant surgeon, falls in love with Daphne Sieverance, the wife of an American colonel whose troops are stationed in the Philippines to quell a bloody insurrection. When two American soldiers are murdered by someone who eviscerates their internal organs, Carriscant helps the chief of the constabulary, the improbably named Paton Bobby, to locate the killer, whom Carriscant suspects but cannot accuse. In this middle section of the novel Boyd suspensefully orchestrates some diabolically clever events, including a fatal air crash, a scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet and a shocking climax that will send readers reeling. With the same sure hand that has distinguished the settings of his previous books A Good Man in Africa; Brazzaville Beach, etc., he evokes the steamy, fetid atmosphere of old Manila and the class distinctions of the time. He also provides genuinely interesting background detail about medical practice during the days when aseptic surgery was still considered quackery, and about the pioneering years of aeronautics. Much of this novel is as magical as an ``eloquent blue afternoon,'' when the atmosphere is luminescent with magical light. It's too bad that Boyd encased his engrossing central tale in its unwieldy carapace. Feb.
Library Journal
Heavily laced with mystery and romance, this intellectual thriller from the author of Brazzaville Beach (LJ 4/1/91) begins in L.A. in 1936 with minimalist architect Kay Fischer's being drawn into the obsessions of a man named Dr. Salvador Carriscant who claims to be her father, then reverts to Manila in 1902, where he was a prominent surgeon. The meat of the story takes place there and includes murders, digressions on early manned flight and turn-of-the-century medical conditions, and a brief, adulterous love affair (Waller-like except for being well written) that informs Carriscant's future after his career is shattered by murder charges. It ends back in the 1930s, in Lisbon, with Kay, Carriscant, a faded 1927 newspaper photo, and a strange reunion. It's too bad that legitimate plot concerns raised in the frame (especially Kay's betrayal by her awful ex-partner) drop from the book entirely, but (as in life?) loose ends predominate in Boyd's world. Smart, intense, recommended.-Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745127262
  • Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
  • Publication date: 8/1/1995
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

William Boyd’s first novel, A Good Man in Africa, won a Whitbread Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award; his second, An Ice-Cream War, was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and The Blue Afternoon won the Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction. Boyd lives in London.
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