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Extended Audio Sample Any Human Heart Audiobook, by William Boyd Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,803 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: William Boyd Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2011 ISBN: 9781470803568
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Bestselling author William Boyd—the novelist who has been called a “master storyteller” (Chicago Tribune) and “a gutsy writer who is good company to keep” (Time)—here gives us his most entertaining, sly, and compelling novel to date. The novel evokes the tumult, events, and iconic faces of our time as it tells the story of Logan Mountstuart—writer, lover, and man of the world—through his intimate journals. It is the “riotous and disorganized reality” of Mountstuart’s eighty-five years in all their extraordinary, tragic, and humorous aspects.

The journals begin with his boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay, then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book, then on to Paris where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al., and to Spain, where he covers the civil war. During World War II, we see him as an agent for naval intelligence, becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, then on to West Africa, to London where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity. This is a moving, ambitious, and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of twentieth-century life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Boyd does such a nimble job of ventriloquism in the book’s opening sections that we find ourselves forgetting that Mountstuart is a fictional character.”

    New York Times

  • “Such an antic plot should not succeed, and yet disbelief remains suspended, thanks to Boyd’s skill in producing a novel that successfully mimics a diary in all its human pettiness. He allows Mountstuart’s voice to age like port.”

    New Yorker

  • “A pleasure front to back, and a fond tip of the bowler hat to the upper-class fiction spawned by a long-gone world.”

    Newsweek

  • “Boyd has an exceptional ability to tell a really compelling story, in dense imaginative detail, about characters with complex, and convincing, emotional lives…I’ve already read this book twice and probably shall again. Of how many novels can that be said?”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  •  “Its pleasures are endless…Supremely entertaining.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “A novel of deep humanity and insight.”

    Newsday

  • “One of the most skillful and appealing writers at work today.”

    Atlantic Monthly

  • “A wonderful character—and a wonderful book…Boyd persuades you that you’ve read the confidences of a real, flawed, marginal character battered by every malice and caprice of twentieth-century history.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Entertaining and moving…Can be read with sheer pleasure not only for the delicacy of its emotions but for the truth of its perceptions. Like saying goodbye to a good friend, it’s hard to see this brilliant novel come to an end.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • “The sort of rare novel that redeems the essential purpose of prose fiction…A high celebration of the plain fun of a life lived with relentless appetite and reasonable grace.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Some nine years after its original publication, Boyd’s classic novel finds its way to audio, with Simon Vance narrating the lifetime of diary entries that tell the story of shambling hero and Englishman Logan Mountstuart. Spanning many decades, the book follows Mountstuart as he navigates boarding school, the 1929 Wall Street crash, WWII, and a very long life—all while meeting a host of famous artists and writers along the way. Vance narrates at a brisk clip, almost faster than the prose demands—but by doing so, he captures the essential Mountstuart: a man unsure about the meaning of a life that is speeding along. And for Boyd’s comic, overstuffed, heartbreaking gem of a novel, this is just right.”

    Publishers Weekly audio review

  • “Surely one of the most beguiling books of this season.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Lavishly imagined…This is a masterfully drawn historical novel, utterly convincing in its depiction of events…Brimming with vitality, pathos, and psychological intimacy. Enthusiastically recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • “A remarkable achievement.”

    Booklist

  • A 2003 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2003 New York Times Notable Book for Fiction
  • Longlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phoebe | 2/20/2014

    " AMAZING. I had to cry at the end -- not because it was sad, but just to release some of the pent up emotion that came from spending 500 pages with such a fab character. why aren't all books this awesome? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 ashok | 2/8/2014

    " I bought this in a cafe in Lamu. It had coffee stains and the pages were all curled up. I read it about a year later -- this is a chronological novel about a man's life, and his changing attitudes and points of view as he grows older. As with many of Boyd's novels there are snippets of history woven into the story ... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis Mckay | 1/27/2014

    " This book had me from the first page to the last as it follows the life of a flawed but fascinating character through most of the 20th Century. One of the best books I have ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Graeme | 1/27/2014

    " The story of Logan Mountstuart, apparently told by the man himself - just thoroughly absorbing, riveting, entertaining storytelling. Thought The New Confessions was good - this was even better. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristen | 1/18/2014

    " Meh. I don't know, it was just so-so for me. It felt like a British sort of version of "Forrest Gump," and I just didn't love it like everyone else did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carly | 1/14/2014

    " This is definitely one of those books that leave a mark on you. As if followed the life of the main character, there were parts that made me laugh, parts that made me sad, times when the main character was very annoying and offensive, and times when I admired him. In short, it really does reflect any and every human life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 georgia L | 1/14/2014

    " absolutely brilliant book, its got to be read. That it spans across a whole life alone makes it brilliant , loved the crossings with some of the century's most interesting events and names and loved the language throughout. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 12/14/2013

    " I am reading this very slowly because I don't want it to end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marvin | 11/25/2013

    " This is a novel written in the form of a personal journal by a writer who lived through every decade in the 20th century (1906-1991). He records his experiences as (1) a student at a prep school & at Oxford; (2) as a beginning writer; (3) as an intelligence officer during WWII (keeping track of the Duke & Duchess of Windson in the Caribbean & later as a prisoner for two years in Switzerland--a confusing story); (4) as an art dealer in New York City; & (5) as a retiree in London & later in southern France. I divide it this way, but he gives equal or greater attention to his private life & his relationships with family, lovers, friends, & incidental acquaintances such as Pablo Picasso & Ernest Hemingway. This is a character I normally wouldn't like--he smokes & drinks heavily, engages in adulterous affairs, & takes his priviliged status for granted--but thanks to this author I got caught up in his story & cared about what happened to him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 11/15/2013

    " I enjoyed the story overall but found that parts of it were slow and hard to et through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lara | 11/11/2013

    " Didn't find it as hilarious as other reviewers did, but interesting trek through the 20th century by Logan as he moves from public school to Oxbridge, becomes an intelligence officer in the 2nd WW, art gallery bod in NY, to eating dog food as a has been. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Debbie | 10/23/2013

    " hated it. could not finish "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacqueline | 10/7/2013

    " Very good! I really like William Boyd. A story of the 20th century through the fascinating life of a writer. Interesting to see that it's really only when you finish the book and think back that you realize how interesting his life was... I wonder if it does that in real life! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 9/16/2013

    " Boyd's best book. But then I like sagas with spies, art deals, riches to rags, Parisian trysts, etc. And it has to be a pageturner or I won't make it. So little time; so many books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melanie Vidrine | 7/30/2013

    " a top ten book of mine, remarkable portrait of a man's life, growth "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marceline | 6/9/2013

    " The format of this story is so original. I love the depth of exploration of Logan's life and enjoyed the many turns. I found that it flowed so much better than I expected. I would highly recommend this book for leisure reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eirin | 4/4/2013

    " I really enjoyed it. Read it quickly. Then watched the miniseries (book is infinitely better). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tom Holt | 1/21/2013

    " Any Human Heart by William Boyd (2002) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rose Baker | 12/4/2012

    " Compelling from start to finish. Logan Mounstuart is ultimately a loveable character that provided an invaluable insight into the trials of life and especially old age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Regina McCreary | 7/3/2012

    " This is the third book by William Boyd I have read and I rate it right in the middle, better than Ordinary Thunderstorms, not as good as Restless. The reader's performance was very good. Probably not for everyone but good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Olivia | 6/20/2012

    " One of the best books I've read in a long time, although throughout the second half I had a feeling of impending melancholy as the protagoinist journeyed through life. Makes you think a lot about what really is a 'good life'. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Lieberman | 5/18/2012

    " A good story that ranges over many times and places. I would have liked a bit more character development, but it certainly held my interest. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill Goode | 4/30/2012

    " I absolutely loved this, it's the best book I've read in a long time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew Robins | 9/24/2011

    " One of my favourite books, tracing the life of Logan Mountstuart, taking in the most important events of the twentieth century. Truly superb. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula | 6/11/2011

    " good book - particularly enjoyed that it was written in journal form "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meeta | 5/24/2011

    " Though the protagonist has an aspect of unlikeability -- a good read that stays with you for a long time. Also, a colorful romp through early 20th century european history. A bit Orlando-esque in parts, but well worth the read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ryan | 5/22/2011

    " Recently was made into a Masterpiece Theater program, but the book is a great read, and will make you think about the consequences of attitude, decisions and those who you choose to establish friendships with. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 5/3/2011

    " Very good book. Now to watch the PBS mini-series. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darren | 4/29/2011

    " Having seen the C4 adaption of this on television recently, I decided to read the book. I'm so glad I did, its a great read and brilliantly written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eddie | 4/13/2011

    " A worthwhile slog that is both inspiring and educational. A comforting read for a casual alcoholic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marvin | 4/13/2011

    " I read this book because I had seen the BBC television version and found it interesting. In all honesty I prefered the television version because in my mind it did a better job of showing the three stages of Logan's life and made the story more compelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lonni | 4/12/2011

    " Another favorite read. Gave it to a friend who wasn't wowed and another who went gaga over it. You decide. I will say it's a bit dense and you gotta be in the mood. I loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeanpaul | 4/11/2011

    " Humorous, heartbreaking, and wistful look at one man’s life through youth, middle age, and old age. Full of twists and turns—sort of like a more serious British version of Forrest Gump. One of the few books that gives an honest answer about the meaning of life. Truly a great read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 4/6/2011

    " I liked this book. The main character was flawed and the plot unbelievable but somehow I felt like he was likable and that these crazy things really did happen. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Vicky | 4/1/2011

    " The book is better than the recent PBS Masterpiece Theater series (the book is written as journal entries) but I really didn't think either was all that good. The protagonist wasn't all that appealing as a character to me and the whole story seemed rather self indulgent. "

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About the Author
Author William Boyd

William Boyd, Scottish novelist and screenwriter, was born in Accra, Ghana, and attended university in Nice, Glasgow, and Oxford. He is the author of ten novels and a number of screenplays and 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 with his wife in London.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with fifty-eight Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.