Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Restless: A Novel

Restless: A Novel

3.7 19
by William Boyd

See All Formats & Editions

A masterful and thrilling espionage novel from one of the most talented authors of his generation. Full of tension and drama, emotion and history, this is storytelling at its finest. Now a major TV movie adaptation by The Sundance Channel and the BBC.
It is Paris, 1939. Twenty-eight year old Eva Delectorskaya is at the funeral of her beloved younger


A masterful and thrilling espionage novel from one of the most talented authors of his generation. Full of tension and drama, emotion and history, this is storytelling at its finest. Now a major TV movie adaptation by The Sundance Channel and the BBC.
It is Paris, 1939. Twenty-eight year old Eva Delectorskaya is at the funeral of her beloved younger brother. Standing among her family and friends she notices a stranger. Lucas Romer is a patrician looking Englishman with a secretive air and a persuasive manner. He also has a mysterious connection to Kolia, Eva's murdered brother. Romer recruits Eva and soon she is traveling to Scotland to be trained as a spy and work for his underground network. After a successful covert operation in Belgium, she is sent to New York City, where she is involved in manipulating the press in order to shift American public sentiment toward getting involved in WWII.
Three decades on and Eva has buried her dangerous history. She is now Sally Gilmartin, a respectable English widow, living in a picturesque Cotswold village. No one, not even her daughter Ruth, knows her real identity. But once a spy, always a spy. Sally has far too many secrets, and she has no one to trust. Before it is too late, she must confront the demons of her past. This time though she can't do it alone, she needs Ruth's help. Restless is a thrilling espionage novel set during the Second World War and a haunting portrait of a female spy. Full of tension and drama, emotion and history, this is storytelling at its finest.

Editorial Reviews

Ben Macintyre
Boyd has written a crackling spy thriller, but more than that, he has evoked the atmosphere of wartime espionage: the clubby, grubby moral accommodations, the paranoia, the tense sexuality…Boyd's first novel, A Good Man in Africa, was a glinting satire, while An Ice-Cream War combined history, comedy and tragedy to wonderful effect. Here he has used a more muted palette, with no humor, no literary embroidery and little emotion. The pared-down style, clipped and understated, perfectly fits the sepia setting.
—The New York Times
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, n e Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian migr 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 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In his latest novel, Boyd (A Good Man in Africa) entwines two stories. One, set in England in 1976, focuses on the everyday preoccupations of Ruth Gilmartin, a single mother who teaches English to foreigners in Oxford. Ruth's life changes when her mother, Sally, begins to reveal her past to her daughter. In the early years of World War II, Sally, whose real name is Eva Delectorskaya, was recruited as a spy by British intelligence. Sent to New York in 1941, she spread black propaganda in an attempt to coax the United States into the war. On a mission in New Mexico, Eva was betrayed and had to kill a man to survive. Unable to trust her team, she escaped to Canada and eventually returned to England, where she lives in seclusion under a new identity, waiting for her betrayer to track her down. While some readers may be annoyed by the author's stylistic tics, particularly the profusion of paired adverbs (e.g., people speak "seriously, weightily" and shrug "hopelessly, helplessly"), others will enjoy this glimpse of wartime dirty tricks. For larger public libraries.-Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Atmospheric novel about an older woman whose past career as a WWII spy has come back to haunt her. Ruth Gilmartin is a single mother of one in 1976 England. On a visit to Grandma's, Ruth's mother, Sally, informs her that her real name is Eva Delectorskaya, and that she was an agent of British Intelligence during World War II. Eva hands Sally a manuscript of her story, abruptly launching the duo and the reader into the past. Boyd (Any Human Heart, 2003, etc.) seems more eager to tell Eva's story than Ruth's. Not surprisingly, as the elder Gilmartin finds herself swept into a world on the brink of war in 1939. Recruited by the swarthy and mysterious Lucas Romer, Eva is trained in spycraft and joins Romer's team, specializing in disinformation. Propaganda is Eva's stock in trade, and she has a knack for it. Still, for all her talent, she finds herself attracted to her secretive boss. Boyd has obviously read a few espionage novels. Can any young woman resist James Bond? Ruth leads a far less glamorous life. Saddled with Jochen, her inquisitive son, she teaches English as a Second Language. Her adventures occur vicariously, through the lives of the foreign students who study with her. With a nod to irony, Ruth teaches people to blend into their surroundings. At first, her mother's revelation seems to be a sign of senility. As Ruth begins to investigate, the shadows of her mother's former life reveal themselves. There is some truth to this work of fiction, and the real-life events make for a fascinating backdrop. Boyd skillfully manipulates language as easily as Eva does. He handles the plot more roughly. Ruth is clumsy albeit untrained, and the other characters in her world are ratherthinly sketched. Yet Boyd fits the puzzle together neatly in the end. A bit light on action and intrigue, but a cool, collected effort.
From the Publisher

“An absorbing historical thriller.” —The New Yorker

“Superbly written…one of the most smoothly readable novels of the year.” —Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune

“[An] espionage thriller and domestic drama by one of the very best prose stylists and storytellers in the English language.” —Atlantic Monthly

“The quality of Boyd's prose and the insight he brings to the story make Restless resonate. Told in his characteristically unobtrusive and elegant tone--[Boyd] explores the very idea of spying...” —Timothy Peters, San Francisco Chronicle

“A gripping and smartly crafted spy thriller set against a fascinating and largely hidden episode in U.S.-British relations.” —John Dalton, Washington Post

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
827 KB

Meet the Author

William Boyd is the author of eight novels, three collections of short stories, and twelve screenplays that have been filmed. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. He lives in London and southwest France.
William Boyd is the author of fourteen novels including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet and adapted into a BAFTA-winning Channel 4 drama; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire PostNovel of the Year and a Richard & Judy selection; the Sunday Times bestseller, Waiting for Sunrise and, most recently, Solo, a James Bond novel. William Boyd lives in London and France


Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Restless 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
DEE37VM More than 1 year ago
Book was recommended to me by a friend and I put off reading it because, it didn't grab me from the title. I never had read anything from this author, so had no idea what it was and thought it was some drivel of frustrated love affair.....brother, was i off base. The intrigue of a spy novel played out over a global stage, but with a twist, as it includes a generational connection and surprise from a mother to her daughter and a villain to mutually dislike...Enjoyed the book from beginning to end...will definitely read more from this author. He held my attention by excellent story and character blending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a nice quick read with well developed characters and a good historical plot. This was my third book from Boyd and was better thanBrazzaville Beach and much better than the unreadable Any Human Heart which was not good at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extraordinary. Highly recommend. On mt all time list of all time best books.
MissMaam More than 1 year ago
The plot of Restless is very interesting, especially because of its historical backdrop. The idea of the main character (Sally) having a secret identity seemed very promising at first and I was expecting non-stop straightforward action, a hefty dose of mystery and a heart-stopping conclusion. However, the book felt more like a love story than a thriller. The events that took place leading to the first big revelation felt hurried and contrived. Even the style with which some parts of the story were written sometimes sounded juvenile. Sally's story provided much of the action and excitement but whatever momentum the reader gets from reading Sally's story is lost when the story shifts to Ruth. There was just too much detail about Ruth's life that seemed irrelevant to Sally's story, which is the main theme of the book. The conclusion was also a bit of a letdown. The book was not bad but it was not great either.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
British actress Rosamund Pike is probably best known for playing the gal who caught James Bond's eye in Die Another Day. While that performance certainly grabbed audience attention, she has numerous other noteworthy credits both on stage and in films. She does another star turn as she inhabits two narrative voices in the 9th novel by William Boyd. He's been called 'The finest storyteller of his generation,' and Restless again demonstrates how splendidly he can spin a tale. Set in Oxfordshire, England during 1976 our story opens with a bit of a shock - Sally Gilmartin gives her daughter, Ruth, a memoir she has penned. Ruth is amazed to learn that her mother is not at all who she believed her to be. In actuality, Sally Gilmartin is Eva Delectorskaya, A Russian who worked for the British Secret Service during World War II. Sally or Eva has guarded this secret well for almost 30 years. Now, she is revealing the truth about herself to her daughter not because she wishes to be open but because she fears for her life and Ruth is the one person in the world she believes she can trust. Ruth is not only astounded but disbelieving, wondering if her mother may be delusional at the onset of old age. Nonetheless, for her mother's sake she tries to find Romer the man who recruited Sally/Eva and with whom she had an affair. Restless is related in parallel stories, probably the most compelling are the accounts of Sally/Eva's enlistment, training, and experiences. Following the war she returns to England, adopts an identity and marries. She has every reason to believe her past is well behind her. Not so! Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke
MargoH More than 1 year ago
Fantastic This is an expertly-written award-winning novel with a masterfully crafted plot. Set in England in modern post-war times, an adult daughter finds out for the first time that her mother, a native Russian was recruited to be a British spy in World War 2 - before the Pearl Harbor attack brought the U.S. into the war. The chapters in the novel alternate between progressive descriptions of the mother’s experiences starting in 1939 and the daughter’s present day life as she becomes gradually aware of her aging mother’s past life. The supposed mission of this particular spy agency was to get the Americans to join the war effort, in hopes of shortening the war and terrors experienced by Londoners during the German bombing blitzes. I was fascinated by the deceit, treachery, and lies that were part of being a spy in those days – trusting no one, even each other (especially each other). The author must have done a staggering amount of research in order to present all the finer details of the history of that period of time. The plot is filled with excitement and suspense, and surprises occur right up until the end. There is love and hate, beauty and ugliness, courage and fear, and just about every kind of emotion imaginable. This is the kind of novel one keep thinking about even after finishing it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strange spy story and how one woman was unknowlingly used and betrayed by those giving her clandestine assignments.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written story as her life as a wwll russian, a spy for england. flashbacks to granny's romantic lover ho hum never read this author before no le carre for sure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good plot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great book! I highly recommend it.