Waiting for Sunrise
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Waiting for Sunrise

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  3,430 ratings  ·  622 reviews
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 nature of his problem when an extraordinary woman enters. She is clearly in distress, but Lysander is immediately drawn to her strange, haze...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Bloomsbury
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It is no accident that William Boyd names his key character “Lysander” – the name of the iconic lover of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the victim of misapplied magic.

Lysander Rief is a British actor of some renown on the world stage of life, as the rumblings of World War I become more and more pronounced. We meet him in Vienna where he is “taking the talking cure” with a disciple of Sigmund Freud’s as a result of a personal problem. While in his psychotherapist’s antechamber, he m...more
Intriguing. Boyd sets up the Bergsonian idea of the Fonction Fabulatrice so very thoroughly, our protagonist is an actor and a confirmed liar, so how much are we to trust his version of events? I have no idea. It all sounds plausible, coherent, but there are some rather odd elements. I think a re-read might be in order.

Done! I get it now. I was reading it all the wrong way, overthinking it. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a thriller is just a thriller, and not a po-mo deconstruction of the...more
Where’s the Sun?

The main character in “Waiting for Sunrise”, Lysander, is an actor. He’s in his late twenties and decides to go to Vienna in 1913 to be psychoanalyzed in order to hopefully cure a sexual malady. Throughout the book there are references to plays, mostly by Shakespeare but notably one by Strindberg called ‘Miss Julie’ however since it takes place on Midsummer’s Night it evokes Shakespeare as well. “Measure for Measure” is the most often mentioned but Hamlet and Lear come up as well...more
Alexander McNabb
I hate to do this. I have long been an admirer of William Boyd's stuff, but this book was one I had to force myself through, often finding myself skimming. The main character, Lysander Rief, struck me as being all over the place - I often found myself drawn up to ponder why on earth would he do that or say this? I suppose part of that is because little personality shines through that isn't self-obsessed and obnoxious. A sexual predator with little love for women, Rief is half Austrian but not in...more
Adrian White
In my younger and more vulnerable years, William Boyd gave me some advice I've been I've been turning over in my mind ever since . . .

Well, actually, what happened was that I wrote to him after having read An Ice-Cream War and told him how much I enjoyed his writing and that it reminded me of E.M. Forster. I also asked if he would agree to read some of my own work. He did agree - which was particularly nice of him - and he even replied with a few kind words of encouragement. He told me to 'keep...more
Tony Mac
Oh dear, all a bit disappointing in the end. One of those books which for most of its length threatens to be clever and brilliant but ultimately fails to deliver the goods. It's a decent enough read while it goes on, with well observed characters and a clear sense of place and time, but its one of those high wire act thrillers that needs to deliver on the ingenuousness it constantly implies if it is going to pull it off, and it simply fails to do it.

I don't mind a bit of ambiguity and I get all...more
Jakey Gee
All a bit bloodless.

With such a giant glut of historical fiction out there at the moment, my first thought was ‘here we go again’ (Pat Barker’s done it, Sebastian Faulks has done it, Alan Hollinghurst’s just done it).

The main issue though was that I just didn’t believe in the main character, Lysander. He felt shallow and rushed. His ‘war’ was barely a daytrip, (almost as if Boyd looks over the parapet and decides it’s best to avoid throwing himself into that quagmire). He then finds himself ap...more
I like William Boyd - a lot, but I didn't like this. Young, middle-ranking English actor shows up in 1913 Vienna to consult an English shrink to help him with his inability to achieve orgasm. Shrink helps. Young actor, Lysander Rief, then has steamy affair with very neurotic young artist, who accuses him of rape to protect herself when her volatile partner finds out about their affair. Rief escapes because he is a master of disguise. Of course he is. He's an actor.

His skills have been noted and...more
This spy novel was a pleasant surprise. Waiting for Sunrise takes place at the opening of WWI between 1913 and 1915 in Vienna, Geneva, and London. It follows a young British actor named Lysander Rief who is wrongly accused of rape in his travels to Vienna to seek treatments for a sexual dysfunction. As a result, he flees the country and returns home and enlists in the war effort. He is recruited as a spy to locate a mole in the British war office and is caught up in an exciting counter-espionage...more
Elizabeth K.
I like William Boyd and this was enjoyable, although not outstanding. It's what you expect, WWI setting, London, Vienna, intrigue, love and passion. I think there's actually a decent conspiracy drama in here -- I'm not entirely sure because at some point I couldn't follow it anymore. I got a little lost at which things were supposed to be coincidences that later turn out to be clues in the conspiracy, and which things were supposed to be plain old coincidences. I think there's a little snicker t...more
I have loved every William Boyd book that I've read to date, except this one. It's hard for me to believe that Waiting for Sunrise was written by the same author. The story hardly hangs together. Secondary characters seem to pop up out of nowhere, the reasons given being unbelievable; worse, they don't add a thing to the flimsy storyline. The only positive thing I can say is that I liked the main character. What a disappointment.
When I write an honest review of a book I disliked, it often generates endless comments, mostly from people who want to argue with me. The net effect being that a book I didn't want to waste time on ends up stealing even more of my time as I try to respond to comments months and even years later.

SO...I thought this book stank, and that's all I'm sayin'.
switterbug (Betsey)
Young, blandly handsome British stage actor Lysander Rief lives in the shadow of his renowned, deceased father, a charismatic, talented actor that died in his prime. Lysander travels to Vienna in 1913 to undergo psychoanalysis, which is becoming the rage now that Freud has pioneered the "talking cure." While there, he engages in a sordid love affair with a seductive, gamine sculptor. The consequences propel him toward the most intrepid performance of his life--a persona game of guile and espiona...more
Lysander Reif, actor and hapless lover, is given brief speaking parts in Waiting… through the prop of a diary prepared for his Viennese psychoanalyst. Otherwise we watch in wonder (a laugh behind our smile) as this young British pawn in pre-WWI Vienna is turned this way and that in canny and knowing hands and is subjected to the voracious appetites of more mature personalities. Lysander, like the Shakespearean character of that name in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, experiences a magical twist in...more
I don't usually want my pots boiled; but when I do, I like Mr. Boyd to do the boiling. He's erudite, can raise the temperature at times, and knows how to keep things hidden. That said, there were moments when he strained credulity.

(view spoiler)...more
Like Boyd's other recent and highly successful novels, Waiting For Sunrise is the story of a relatively ordinary individual caught up in extraordinary events. Opening in Vienna in nineteen fifteen, it begins with Lysander Rief, a not overly-successful English actor, sitting in the consulting room of Dr Bensimon, a psycho-analyst, to whom he has come for help with sexual problems that originate in a childhood burdened with confusion and deception.

A chance acquaintance with Hetty, a young Englishw...more
boyd is a favorite author, but this one misses marks as a bit too scattered, that is the mystery and spy stuff is not as focused as it could be. but also there are very interesting bits of pre wwi vienna and england, psychoanalysis and shooting coke, sex and love, gays and their codes in england, wwi and england's spies, food and drink and smoking, the impact of cars, zeppelin attacks on london, being multilingual, art, music and acting and england's administration of the great war and who did w...more
Hey, I read a "real" novel--by a man who has won lots of awards and gets rave reviews from respectable sources. Admittedly because it looked like a lot of fun, with some of my favorite ingredients: spies, artistis, psychoanalysis, Vienna, early 20th century. Yes, it was very well written, researched, interestingly ambiguous. But as a reader of usually more "trashy" books, the "juiciness" seemed drained to make it more "literary." Besides that, I did not understand the main character Lysander. He...more
Ian Young
Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd is a literary thriller, starting in pre-first World War Vienna and finishing in wartime London. In between it touches down in the battlefields of France and a more peaceful Geneva. The main protagonist is Lysander Rief, a young English actor beginning to make a name for himself on the stage, following in the footsteps of his more famous father. As the novel commences, Lysander has travelled to Geneva seeking psychotherapy for a sexual problem from one of Vienn...more
William Boyd's latest novel, Waiting for Sunrise, is unlike anything I've read in a long while.

The story begins in 1913 when a 28 year-old English actor by the name of Lysander Reif has taken all of his money and headed to Vienna. It seems the handsome, educated man has a bit of a sexual dysfunction issue. In Vienna, Dr. Bensimon, a highly regarded psychoanalyst, considered an expert in the field, and a former student of Freud, is the man Reif is confident can help him overcome his sexual perfor...more
WAITING FOR SUNRISE. (2012). William Boyd. *****.
Mr. Boyd is a consistently excellent storyteller and writer. This, his latest, is a mystery novel, an espionage novel, a romance (several) novel, and a historical novel. The protagonist, Lysander Rief, is a young man from London who has travelled to Vienna to seek treatment from a psychiatrist there for a very personal problem – one that was sexual in nature. Using techniques derived from the teachings of Dr. Freud – although Freud later disparag...more
Helena Halme
The only negative about this new William Boyd book is that it takes no time at all to read and then you have another two years or so to wait for another one.

Waiting for Sunrise, which took me about a week to consume, is vintage Boyd and doesn't disappoint. It's a thrilling spy thriller with a human story, which starts in Vienna before the outbreak of the First World War in late 1913, and ends in London about two years later.

The main protagonist is a handsome actor, Lysander Rief, who decides to...more
Book Reader
Vienna, 1913. 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 intense beauty. 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...more
A big disappointment

I stuck with this for 320 pages (of a total of 428) before waving the white flag, and reading the rest of the plot on Wikipedia. I read my first William Boyd novel, Brazzaville Beach, in the 1990s, having been reliably informed that it was wonderful. It wasn't. It was competent and perfectly fine but not the masterpiece I was expecting. I was inspired to read "Waiting for Sunrise" as, once again, I'd read a plethora of positive reviews, and because the story is set in an era...more
Trevor Willson
Our “hero” Lysander Rief is an actor, and through out this well written spy story you are never quite sure what is true, what is illusion and when he is being himself.

Set just before, and in the early part of World War One, this is a very good yarn, with many twists and turns, ensuring that you continue reading to find out what the truth is. Whether you ever find out the truth is debatable, as right to the end there are twists and more twists.

The evocations of Vienna, Geneva and London are wond...more

Waiting for Sunrise is a discursive (meaning: wandering) psychological novel that evolves into a mystery thriller set in the World War I era.

Our hero, Lysander Rief, a young Englishman, has traveled to Vienna for a cure: he can attain an erection and have sex but not experience an orgasm.

From start to finish, whether in the third person or through Lysander’s notebooks in the first person, the prose is vivid and engaging. Of course there’s a psychoanalyst involved, but he quickly gives way to Lys...more
Typical William Boyd. Born of an Englisg father and Austrian mother a small lie on his part loses two of his father's servants their jobs. He seems to put his 1960's/1970's sexual freedom into past times when they seem less authentic. After visiting an early psychiatrist in Vienna (1913) to overcome impotence, diagnosed as being guilt from the small lie, he has a brief fling with one of the other patients (cured of his problem now), gets accused of rape (as she's married and becomes pregnant) an...more
Maggie Donaldson
Oh William, William! You are a frustrating writer. You can be utterly brilliant (Brazzaville Beach, An Ice Cream War), inventive and creative (the fake autobiographies of invented characters - The New Confessions, Any Human Heart, the whole hilarious Nat Tate exercise) and you also created some of the best tragic/comic characters in modern fiction (Morgan Leafy in A Good Man in Africa, Logan Mountstuart in Any Human Heart). But have you gone off the boil? It started with 'Restless' which was a g...more
"Waiting for Sunrise" is a literate, stylish thriller set at the time of World War I, and featuring as its hero a dashing young actor and reluctant spy named Lysander Rief. Arriving in Vienna the summer before the war to consult with a psychoanalyst about a mysterious sexual problem, Rief is ensnared by an enigmatic and highly eccentric beauty who, after the two have pursued a torrid affair, accuses him of raping her; he only escapes trial (and worse) when diplomats at the British embassy help t...more
Jul 12, 2014 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of historical novels
Recommended to Mark by: Mr Boyd being the writer of a continuation novel of 007
Truly, to tell lies is not honourable; but when the truth entails tremendous ruin, to speak dishonourably is pardonable - SOPHOCLES

While I am not in awe of mr. Boyds attempt in the continuation world of Ian Flemings world of a certain British secret agent, I did notice his skill that made reading his prose very easy, even if it is at times very detailed (especially the food & clothes). So hence my go at a book and idea by his own hand.

This novel about matters of the heart, Vienna and the sp...more
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How revealing is the finale? 3 29 Apr 09, 2014 10:29PM  
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Of Scottish descent, Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana on 7th March, 1952 and spent much of his early life there and in Nigeria where his mother was a teacher and his father, a doctor. Boyd was in Nigeria during the Biafran War, the brutal secessionist conflict which ran from 1967 to 1970 and it had a profound effect on him.

At the age of nine years he attended Gordonstoun school, in Moray, Scotland an...more
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“She's half mad and three parts drunk.” 7 likes
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