Vienna, 1913. It is a fine day in August when Lysander Rief, a young English actor, walks through the city to his first appointment with the eminent psychiatrist Dr Bensimon. Sitting in the waiting room he is anxiously pondering the particularly intimate nature of his neurosis when a young woman enters. She is clearly in distress, but Lysander is ...
Vienna, 1913. It is a fine day in August when Lysander Rief, a young English actor, walks through the city to his first appointment with the eminent psychiatrist Dr Bensimon. Sitting in the waiting room he is anxiously pondering the particularly intimate nature of his neurosis when a young woman enters. She is clearly in distress, but Lysander is immediately drawn to her strange, hazel eyes and her unusual, intense beauty. Her name is Hettie Bull. They begin a passionate love affair and life in Vienna becomes tinged with a powerful frisson of excitement for Lysander. He meets Sigmund Freud in a cafe, begins to write a journal, enjoys secret trysts with Hettie and appears - miraculously - to have been cured. Back in London, 1914. War is imminent, and events in Vienna have caught up with Lysander in the most damaging way. Unable to live an ordinary life, he is plunged into the dangerous theatre of wartime intelligence - a world of sex, scandal and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code which is threatening Britain's safety, and use all his skills to keep the murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life. Moving from Vienna to London's West End, from the battlefields of France to hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a feverish and mesmerising journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller and a literary tour de force from the bestselling author of Any Human Heart, Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms.
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Publishers Weekly, 2012-01-16 Boyd excels in portraying ordinary British citizens caught up in pivotal historical events. Like Logan Montstuart, the protagonist of Any Human Heart, and Sally Gilmartin, the former espionage agent in Restless, young actor Lysander Rief has a small but crucial part to play before and during WWI. In 1913 Vienna, having gone to consult a Freudian psychoanalyst (one of Freud's former students, in fact) for a sexual problem, he encounters Hettie Bull, a highly strung expat Englishwoman of potent carnal enchantment. Though Hettie lives with someone and Rief is engaged to be married to an English actress, they begin an affair. But she accuses him of raping her and he's arrested, only to be rescued by British diplomatic officials, kicking off a web of intrigue that enmeshes Rief in ever more mysterious circumstances. The action moves to wartime France, Geneva, and London, where Rief is made to pay for his freedom by undertaking dangerous espionage missions. His continuing involvement with Hettie, over whom he breaks off his engagement, and his attraction to a French agent who almost kills him, sustains a strand of romantic suspense. On a deeper level, Boyd depicts the social and sexual hypocrisies of fin-de-siecle Vienna and the insidious old-boy network of the British Establishment. He hews closely to his protagonist, whose perspective becomes increasingly unreliable, echoing the book's epigrams about truth and lies from Hemingway and Sophocles. Set pieces like Lysander's dead-of-night mission in no-man's-land, and his surreal experience watching a graceful zeppelin drop its bombs on central London create the atmospheric accuracy for which Boyd is justly praised. As in all of his novels, Boyd speculates about luck and chance and the unpredictable events that can determine a person's life. With its adroit plot twists and themes of deception and betrayal, this is an absorbing spy novel that raises provocative questions. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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