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Restless: A Novel

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,677 Ratings  ·  947 Reviews
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 traveli ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published September 4th 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tea Jovanović
Sjajan autor... mnoge knjige su mu i ekranizovane...

Nažalost, ovo je zasad jedina njegova knjiga prevedena na srpski... Ali ne gubimo nadu da ćemo mu opet naći izdavača :)
Apr 29, 2008 Alistair rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone on a long haul flight with 24 hours to spare
Recommended to Alistair by: my daughter sorry !
i just about stayed with this to the end but for a good writer like william boyd , i found it underwhelming .
the characters are very thin and a lot of them pointless , the plot creaks like a House of Horror film door , and most of the writing is cliched . most of what Boyd seems to know about spying seems to have come from the Mail on Sunday

here are some gems that i noticed

here is Romer , supposedly a big cheese spy ,explaining the rules of spying " don't trust anyone " he said ..........
god i
Jerry Cowhig
Sep 19, 2007 Jerry Cowhig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've just posted all the William Boyd books on my bookshelf. I started reading him about five years ago (Armadillo, set in London) and over time I occasionally bought and read others. Lately after I read Brazzaville Beach I realised with surprise that I had now read all nine of his novels - and that's all until he writes another!

He creates wonderful characters in rich geographical settings and plots, often told within a twentieth century historical context: Africa commonly, and also America, oth
K.D. Absolutely
William Boyd (born 1952) is a Scottish novelist and screenwriter. In 1983, he was one of the 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelist’ in a promotion run by Granta magazine and the Book Marketing Council. Restless (published 2006) tells the story of a young woman who finds out that her mother used to work as a spy for British government prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. However, unlike Susan Isaac’s Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) in the 1992 movie, Shining Through, this is about a Russian-born spy ...more
I read this because I enjoyed Any Human Heart ( so much; I don't normally read tales of wartime espionage. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

The story alternates between the wartime life of Eva, recruited as a spy, and ~30 years later, when she tells her adult daughter about it. There are also subplots relating to the daughter's life, though I think the book would have been better without them: Eva's story is exciting enough without trying to draw weak parallels
Jun 16, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
3.5 stars really.
Fairly competent world war two spy thriller which goes along at a good pace without taxing the brain too much (not a bad thing as I'm also immersed in Proust and Gass at the moment).
Set in 1976 with flashbacks to 1940/1941. The central characters are Sally and her daughter Ruth. Sally decides to let Ruth knowabout her hidden past as a spy and does so in a series of written chapters which gradually reveal her story. SWhe does so because she thinks someone is trying to kill her a
Jan 16, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up in a bookshop as a Christmas present for someone but then read it myself; as this is how I got hooked on the earlier works of Michael Morpurgo whilst buying them as presents for my nephews and nieces whilst young it looks like a bit of a christmas hazard.

The shape of the chapters, alternating between the reminiscences and betrayal of the 1940's with the ' present time ' account of the sweltering summer of 1976 was simple but effective. As a young lad in 1976 I remembered that sum
As usual my rating only expresses my personal reaction to a book and thus my personal preferences. Two stars reflects that spy novels are not my cup of tea, even if the artist is a magician with words. I do appreciate Boyd’s writing. It just works for me! A character enters a room and observes that the spider plant in the corner was “dying of thirst”. Another character remarks at the placard on the door “Ladies Drawing Room” and says, “How do you know I am a lady?” The writing is subtly humorous ...more
Mar 01, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised to find this book on a list of the "best" spy novels, but not when I read it. It's not only a good one but it's different.

A woman tutoring foreign students in English while she half-heartedly completes a dissertation in history visits her mother in a picturesque village a short drive away. Her mother is a widow, in reasonable good health and in possession of her faculties. But Sally (the mother) has decided it's time to tell Ruth (the daughter) the truth about her life. She's rea
Bookmarks Magazine

Every critic agrees that William Boyd is a shamefully overlooked author on this side of the Atlantic. A powerful storyteller whose novels span genres and continents, Boyd often subtly ruminates on the thin line between private and public life. In Restless he fictionalizes a little-known moment of international espionage while using the conventions of spy thrillers to explore a generation gap. Critics roundly praise Sally's story. It's her daughter's story that's the trouble: a few reviewers find

Feb 22, 2009 Helena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This may well be the book that brings me back to fiction. I devoured it in seven days, rising and falling asleep with it. It's the story of a young British woman who discovers her mother was a British spy in the years leading up to the second world war. The story weaves back and forth as the mother retells the story. Boyd develops such interesting characters and his subplots are all so very interesting. If you want a good escape this is your book!
Apr 17, 2011 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boyd, William. RESTLESS. (2006). *****.
Mr. Boyd has that remarkable ability and talent to tell a story that keeps the reader engaged right to the end. This is an espionage novel, a war novel, and a love story. Sally Gilmartin, a woman in her seventies living in Oxford, begins giving pieces of her memoirs to her daughter, Ruth – a single mom. She reveals, first of all, that she is not Sally Gilmartin, but actually Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian emigre recruited for the British Secret Service in 19
This book was phenomenal. I started it at 3 o' clock this afternoon and just read it straight through. (It's now 9pm and I still haven't eaten dinner.)

Ruth Gilmartin is a graduate student in history at Oxford, 28-year old single mother of a three-year old son, Jochen. On a hot Saturday in the summer of 1976 her world is turned upside down when her mother reveals that her identity as Sally Gilmartin (nee Fairchild) is an elaborately constructed fabrication. Turns out that Sally is actually Eva De
Sep 22, 2015 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Restless is an entertaining. World War Two spy novel. T
He only reason I'm giving it only four stars is because the ending was weak.
Oct 05, 2007 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sexy spies
Shelves: frillers
Long time since I read any William Boyd, I think he's like a lighter, wittier version of John Le Carre. I liked the dynamic between mother-with-mysterious past who was a spy in WW2 and stroppy grown-up daughter. Set in the heatwave of 1979 (or 8??) so there are a few moustache and cheesecloth references. Made me wish I'd been a spy.
David Ball
I bought this book on the back of a recommendation by somebody I interviewed back in 2006 or 2007, so it has sat on my bookshelf for the better part of five years. I needed something easy to read, as I booked myself a one day round trip flight from Copenhagen to London, so I grabbed it, despite the pretty poor rating given to it by my fellow Goodreads reviewers. I should have listened to you! I don't have anything against a pulpy spy novel (I loved the Girl with the Dragon tattoo trilogy), but t ...more
I disappeared into this book like I would have in a good movie. In fact I could see the movie play as I read the book. William Boyd manages to tiptoe around a few different genres here: thriller, historical fiction, fiction...Ah, is it all the French and different languages in the book that makes me want to say, C'est Magnifique? I don't know. What I do know is that 3-4 days reading the book and I was sad when it ended. It was one of those books that makes you savor each word.

Ruth always knew t
Ian Laird
Apr 20, 2015 Ian Laird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, wartime
I was introduced to Restless, and to William Boyd, by Richard Tulloch, the co-creator of the outstanding Australian kids series Bananas in Pyjamas.

We were comparing notes on our best reads of the past twelve months. I was very glad for the introduction because I enjoyed Restless a lot. But not completely…

Particularly thrilling is the recruitment to the British Secret Service of a young woman, Eva, in a state of emotional distress following the loss of her brother, who has been murdered and she
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction-uk
I must say that this is one of the finest mystery stories I've listened to. It is a beautifully-written novel and I'm planning to get more by this author. He is amazing.

The long and the short of the story is this:

Ruth Gilmartin is a graduate student with a young son, working as a tutor while she is supposed to be working on her thesis. She visits her mother Sally dutifully every weekend, and on one weekend, her mother makes the startling announcement that she thinks someone is trying to kill her
A well-written and suspenseful novel of espionage circa WWII. The heroine is intelligent, resourceful, complex and likeable. Her experiences are plausible and left me wondering if the British really were involved in operations of the sort described in the book.

The dual time frame structure of the book worked well. The two strands eventually meeting at the denouement brought the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion. My only criticism is that “The Story of Eva Delectorskaya” was written as just
Dec 11, 2008 Martina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Martina by: Raphaela
a really fun read!! it's about an ESL teacher who discovers her mother's past. the story takes place in some of my favorite locations - montreal, ny, london, and a brief journey on the LIRR to port jefferson,, story of my life??
Aug 17, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Restless by British novelist William Boyd is splendid tale of two tales woven together in which a cagey, adventuresome elderly mother uses her equally intelligent and strong-willed daughter to exact revenge on a man who wronged her--and many others--during his days as a Russian double agent in the British intelligence service back in World War II.

I say "back in World War II" because the novel's present day setting is 1976 and the World War II setting emerges from a memoir the mother writes recou
Sep 19, 2008 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In offering a review of a novel by William Boyd I could certainly be accused of bias. I would proudly plead guilty, since I regard him as one of just four or five British writers who are capable of constructing supreme works of fiction, written in a framework that is both informative and thought-provoking and all this set within a continuum of contemporary or historical events which themselves become re-interpreted by the fiction. In Restless, Boyd’s latest novel, he has re-stated this ability a ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Restless, by William Boyd, narrated by Rosamund Pike, produced by Macmillan Audio, downloaded from

Ruth, a single mother with a five-year-old son, is suddenly drawn into the life of her mother, Sally Gilmartin. Sally tells Ruth she believes someone is trying to kill her. She then writes a journal of her involvement as a British spy in WW II. The novel is based on an extraordinary chapter of real history, the World War before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, where the English were fighting
Mike Kimera
Apr 02, 2010 Mike Kimera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream, thriller
"Restless" is both a compelling thriller and a close look at the mechanics and consequences of deception. It slides easily across the tongue and then leaves an after-taste that is complex and intriguing.

The novel takes place on two historical timelines simultaneously: oxford in the the 1970's (presented as the present day) and Europe/US during World War II. In Oxford a young single mother taking her PhD, is handed a file by her eccentric mother. The file describes a life she did not know her mot
Jacquelynn Luben
This was a reasonably interesting story, but marred by its main characters, with whom I could not really empathise. Not every reader feels the need to like the characters in a book, but for me, the relationships are very important.

This book is another timeslip novel, set in the 1970s and the 1940s. Ruth gets vaguely involved with some half hearted protestors, while her mother in the 1940s is a spy in an organisation which creates propaganda for use in the second world war. The two stories come
Jun 27, 2008 Aj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Restless by William Boyd is a fascinating novel that exposes the British Security Coordination (BSC), an extensive British covert spy operation aimed at persuading the US to enter World War II. However, this engrossing spy intrigue is hamstrung by non sequitur characters and over-reaching thematic metaphors.

Restless takes place in two time lines: the mid-1970s and early 1940s. The reader joins Ruth Gilmartin as she discovers the mysterious and heretofore unknown past of her mother - Eva Delector
Dec 09, 2008 Flannery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely liked this book (Thanks Cassi!) but it wasn't amazing. I love reading about espionage and the history of WWII was great. Boyd did a great job of explaining lots of the skills and techniques that spies use and that was also interesting.

HOWEVER, i loved reading Eva's story but Ruth's (horrible name, especially when the Middle Eastern guy calls her Root) story was a bore for the most part. I still always wanted to keep listening though!

I thought the pencil part in the new Batman movie
This book actually works better on the TV than it does on the page. For the screenplay Boyd chopped out some of the dead wood (most of which is to be found in the 1970s sections), and didn't dwell on the slightly implausible elements. The result feels less convoluted.
Boyd is a very unpretentious writer - his 'style' is about as plain vanilla as it gets, but this is a pretty functional genre effort. Ironically, it was the one that won him a prize (the Costa); which is a but of a shame really, bec
Sep 23, 2012 Fiona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction

I was underwhelmed by this book, the first William Boyd I have read. It's interesting from the perspective that we learn a lot about British spying activities in WW2 and I enjoyed remembering 1976 but it more or less ended there for me. The plot line was fairly thin in respect of both mother and daughter's stories and I found Ruth's approach by the British detective a ridiculous attempt to draw a parallel between her and her mother's lives. All in all, I'm disappointed in Boyd as I expected more
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February's Bookclub choice 1 7 Jan 25, 2014 06:06AM  
February's Bookclub choice 1 16 Jan 25, 2014 06:06AM  
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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 about William Boyd...

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“Maybe we should go by tube', he said.

A taxi'll come', she said. 'I'm in no hurry'.

She remembered something a woman in Paris had told her once. A woman in her forties, much married, elegant, a little world-weary. There is nothing easier in this world, this woman had claimed, than getting a man to kiss you. Oh really? Eva had said, so how do you do that? Just stand close to a man, the woman has said, very close, as close as you can without touching - he will kiss you in one minute or two. It's inevitable. For them it's like an instinct - they can't resist. Infaillible.

So Eva stood close to Romer in the doorway of the shop on Frith Street as he shooted and waved at the passing cars moving down the dark street, hoping one of them might be a taxi.

We're out of luck', he said, turning, to find Eva standing very close to him, her face lifted.

I'm in no hurry', she said.

He reached for her and kissed her.”
“I stood there in the kitchen, watching her staring across the meadow still searching for her nemesis and I thought, suddenly, that this is all our lives - this is the one fact that applies to us all, that makes us what we are, our common mortality, our common humanity. One day someone is going to come and take us away: you don't need to have been a spy, I thought, to feel like this.” 8 likes
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