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Any Human Heart (Penguin Celebrations)

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  6,609 ratings  ·  737 reviews
Logan Gonzago Mountstuart, writer, was born in 1906, and died of a heart attack on October 5, 1991, aged 85. William Boyd's novel Any Human Heart is his disjointed autobiography, a massive tome chronicling "my personal rollercoaster"--or rather, "not so much a rollercoaster", but a yo-yo, "a jerking spinning toy in the hands of a maladroit child." From his early childhood ...more
Paperback, 504 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Penguin (first published January 25th 2002)
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Camille I have to admit, that's why I'm looking it up. It doesn't look like my particular cup of tea though, so I think I might pass on this one. I did read…moreI have to admit, that's why I'm looking it up. It doesn't look like my particular cup of tea though, so I think I might pass on this one. I did read The Ego Trick by Julian Baggini per his recommendation, and I enjoyed it immensely!(less)
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Kalliope


I have liked this book a great deal more than I wanted to admit. It flows easily, and the diary format, with short entries and some gossipy ingredients, makes it hard to break away. This was addictive reading.

Several readers in GR have criticized that they do not like the main character. To me he comes across as an ordinary man, with weaknesses (alcohol and women), some cowardly reactions, but showing also bouts of integrity and a fair amount of self-honesty (to what extent does diary-writing in
...more
Chrissie
Yeah, I rally liked this book. Maybe it is even amazing.

I love it because it is set in France, both in Paris and villages along the coast, NYC, London, Spain, Nigeria, Reykjavik, the Bahamas and more.

I love it because it captures the WHOLE life of an ordinary man. It is about youth, the middle years and aging. Being a child and having children. It is about love, the physical attraction and the emotional one.

Logan, the central character, is, a man with strong sexual needs. Some may label him as i
...more
Cecily
I enjoyed this tremendously, even though I watched the TV adaptation a few weeks earlier, so I already knew the characters and plot (though there are some differences).

STRUCTURED AS MEMOIRS

This is presented as a compilation of journals kept by Logan Mountstuart from shortly before he left school in the 1920s until just before his death aged 85. Consequently, they describe things as they were at the time, with candour and an absence of hindsight. It also means there are gaps and changes of style.
...more
Katy
I don't think I've ever mourned the end of a character in quite the way I mourned Logan Mountstuart, tears winding down my temples as I peeled through the last pages in bed last night. I don't tend to get all that emotionally invested in the things I read (sentimental sure, but I typically retain that sense of fictionality ("yes, it was very sad when the man stopped drawing the deer")) but the way the main body of Any Human Heart is presented as a salvaged journal scaffolded by biographical anno ...more
Sonya
When you start out, you'll think you might not like this book. The main character is arrogant and, well, young. Brash. But keep going through this fictionalized journal that keeps track of seventy years of a man's life, including his heartbreaks and strongest loves. Other reviewers bash it for its "Forest Gumpness," yet to me it's not all that unbelievable that an upperclass intelligence officer might have contact with influential persons during one of the world's most tempestuous and active per ...more
Huw Rhys
If you can imagine Johnny English meeting Rolf Harris meeting Forrest Gump meeting Grahame Greene meeting Adrian Mole (just after Sue Townshend lost interest in him), then you're not a million miles away from how the plot in this novel is set up.

And although it does contain a lot of banality along with quite a few other weaknesses, this doesn't spoil too much what is a very, very special novel.

When I read something that moves me, or resonates very strongly with me, I turn over the bottom of the
...more
Tea Jovanović
Britanci su snimili sjajan film snimljen po ovoj knjizi... Kako to samo oni umeju da urade... :) A na ovog autora obratite paznju, odlican je...
Andrew Smith
I found this book to be different, in style, to others I’ve read by this author. After a a couple of chapters I really wasn’t sure if I liked it at all but by the end I was totally captivated.

It’s written as a series of journal (diary) entries and tells the story of a life that’s been lived in every decade of the 20th Century - a life lived very much to the full. Once I got used to the style I found that I was quickly sucked into the life of the character through whose eyes the story is told. S
...more
Aubrey
4.5/5
That was a good life. A good, male life, lived through almost the entirety of the twentieth century. Or at least, it made for good reading material, but I'd like to think that in the end, Logan was happy in the least regretful sense that an old man can be.
I have to say, becoming a writer was probably the best thing he could have done in this time period. He met so many renowned folks, and took part in so many historical events as he traveled the world over. That may be my bias towards writ
...more
F.R.
I’ve never kept a diary myself, but do have admiration for those who do. It seems to me to require a level of dedication that even a humble scribbler of fiction like myself would find hard to maintain. I don’t write every single day, let alone every single evening, and besides I like to make stuff up. The fictional diary then perhaps offers the ideal halfway house for a novelist, allowing the form but without the chore of writing about every single day, no matter how little has actually happened ...more
Karen Pine

One sign of a good book is the sense of emptiness that lingers once the last page has been reluctantly turned. So it was with Any Human Heart, which completely and utterly spoiled me for whatever came next*. On finishing the book I found I missed the central character, Logan Mountstuart enormously, as if his death had been the death of someone I knew and loved. Logan, with all his failings, manages to charm and beguile the reader in the way he charmed many who crossed his path. I loved his wit,
...more
Fiona
I'll write a proper review later maybe, but my initial thoughts -

* This book started out as 'just okay' for me - hovering between three stars and four stars, then became a hazy four stars but very near the end marched up to five stars.

* I loved Logan. I came to know him and see him subtly change as the years took him from adolescence to an old man. Always full of sprite and character. I laughed with him and I cried with him.

* Because of this I now feel a great sense of loss - I'm going to mi
...more
R.

This is not my favorite book, this is not the most lofty book I've ever read, its not going to break into the top ten list (although I think it has become cemented into the top 20) However, It was a total page turner that kept me up late and wishing my subway rides would last longer but some how managed to feel important and slightly intellectual at the same time. It was amazing and I'm afraid to even recommend it because if you don't love it as much as I did it will break my heart.

There are man
...more
Stefanie
Didn't really like it. It's written as a diary, and covers a good chunk of the 20th century. Logan, the diarist, didn't compel me in the slightest, he was flat. Although he experienced some exciting things in his life, from meeting Hemingway and Picasso, to being imprisoned as a spy, I found him boring. I did read it through, which is something.... I kept hoping to start caring about him. But I never did. Perhaps it's the diary form that disagreed with me--I think it may be the first of that sty ...more
Stela
Nov 30, 2011 Stela rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stela by: Carmen, a friend
Every time I close a book I like to question myself about the most powerful images in it. In this one there were at least three: the announcement of Logan's father death, made by an insensitive principal (the Lizard) who explains that this is the only motive for not expelling the narrator and who hits him hard, on the same occasion, for breaking some school rules; the way the hero dresses up for a meeting with a friend in order not to be suspected that he is so poor that he eats dog-food; and th ...more
Blair
I'd been putting this off - or saving it. Either way I had intended to read it on holiday at the end of April, the reason being that I thought it would be a tough book to tackle; not difficult or unenjoyable, but the sort of thing I would need lots of time and proper concentration to really appreciate. However, a few days ago my Kindle broke and, with nothing else available while I wait for it to be replaced, I decided to get stuck in to Any Human Heart.

I soon realised that - as with Fingersmit
...more
Ethan
The language isn't difficult, but this is one of those books that needs 100 pages of your patience, because it takes that long for the small devices of the voice to take effect. Once they do, the last 400 pages zip along.

It's presented as though it were a posthumously published series of diary entries--NOT a memoir. This matters because the central appeal is the voice of a writer (Logan Mountstuart) talking candidly to himself, rather than positioning his experiences for public view. The attract
...more
Ginni Dickinson
It was with great sadness that I finished "Any Human Heart" last night. I feel like I have lost a dear friend in LMS (Logan Mounstuart.) LMS is one of the most human and sympathetic characters I have enjoyed getting to know. I think most who have read of him would agree he could be a real ass. But somehow I can overlook this because of his great capacity to love and to reflect so honestly on his life. From LMS I have learned that life can be a series of good and bad luck events. It is up to me t ...more
Essie Fox
One of the most engrossing novels I've ever read. I am really enjoying reading William Boyd ... Now onto another.
Laura
This book, although well-written, was about the life of a man I didn't really like, until he became much older. For about the last 100 pages, I really really enjoyed it.
Dougal
What a fabulous book.

I discovered this purely by chance. A friend told me to catch a television serial and, soon afterwards, the novel popped up on another friend’s Goodreads with a five star rating. Until then, I had no idea that the serial was, in fact, a serialisation of William Boyd’s book. I must confess I was surprised. I thought the television adaptation was brilliant; but I had been underwhelmed by the only other book I had read of Boyd’s: Restless.

And this book by Boyd? Well, my first
...more
Ron
I guess this book was written for the older generation. In my 30s or even 40s I would probably have dismissed it for its ramblings, its excessive length and its protagonist's arrogance and name-dropping. For some it would appear to be a sort of British equivalent of Forest Gump as its hero lives through almost the entire twentieth century meeting many of its great characters and being involved in many of its central events.



However, for us "wrinklies" I suspect, there is a great deal of fascinat
...more
V.
I know a number of people who consider this book a favourite so I was expecting a lot. Sadly I was disappointed.

As the story of a man living through the major(ish) events of the 20th century, not as a main player or hero, but a fairly ordinary (if a little priviliged) man it was a neat premise. My problem with it I think can be best summed up by describing a key scene. During WW2 as an intelligence officer his family backgorund on his mother's side makes him the ideal candidate as a spy in Switz
...more
Mark Speed
One of my all-time favourite books. Don't be put off by the first page, which - in my view - is a little difficult to read.

The novel is presented as extracts from the diary of a writer. We follow him from school days, sexual awakening, through WWII, love, marriage, the tragic deaths of friends, encounters with famous and historic figures, and his so-near-yet-so-far success as a writer. It's this latter writer's journey that hooked me. It's as if Boyd is giving writers a life-coaching talk about
...more
Jennifer
This book was like meeting a friend - a friend that as soon as you meet them it feels like you were already friends forever and how is it possible you hadn't really met before? Any Human Heart is the story of Logan Gonzago Mountstuart told through his journals spanning from his public school days in England through his eighties in France. His life is full of everything from the tedious days of his first marriage to his exciting days as a spy during the war, full of famous acquaintances (Hemingwa ...more
Jeanette (jema)
Funny how everyone been raving about Stoner as a book that is heartbreaking and gripping. I found it quite tedious at times to be honest. This book though broke my heart and made me cry ugly several times.
Logans journals seems to be so genuine that it is hard to imagine that this did not happen, that this is just a novel from the mind of William Boyd.

I listend to this for once, usually not a fan of audio books since my mind tend to wander, not so here. Never for a moment did my attention slip.

J. Kent Messum
Not my usual fare, I must say, but I simply could not put this book down. 'Any Human Heart' is one of those rare long novels that pulls you in and holds you tight throughout its many pages. Exceptionally well written. I highly recommend this tale of one man's life lived to the fullest.
Keith
When I finished Boyd's 'New Confessions' (about 15 years ago), I remember thinking how much I missed the main character. So I’m surprised that it took me so long to read another of his books.

Nevertheless, Logan Mountstuart made an equal if not greater impact. When I finished ‘Any Human Heart’, I was desperate to keep him alive. I googled him (interestingly, there is a Twitter account in his name). And imagine my relief when I discovered the Channel 4 adaptation. It’s not completely faithful but
...more
Nick Brett
Although I have read a previous William Boyd, this is not the sort of book I would normally pick up. Luckily a friend insisted I give it a try.

And such a hard book to describe, at a superficial level it is a fictional autobiography (in the form of a life-long journal) that takes us through much of the 20th century. Through the journal we meet many important people from the Duke of Windsor and Ian Fleming through to various artists and writers. But it is at the deeper level where the book hooks y
...more
Ian Mapp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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“It's true: lives do drift apart for no obvious reason. We're all busy people,we can't spend our time simply trying to stay in touch. The test of a friendship is if it can weather these inevitable gaps.” 83 likes
“I have to start my real life soon, before I die of boredom and frustration.” 10 likes
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