Young, alone, and far from her family in Britain, Hope Clearwater contemplates the extraordinary events that left her washed up like driftwood on Brazzaville Beach. It is here, on the distant, lonely outskirts of Africa, where she must come...more
Boyd has a talent for immersing the reader in an exotic or unfamiliar topic in his books, and I found myself completely absorbed by the details of Hope's work with the chimpanzees (and only a bit less so with John's work on mathematics). The structure of the book, broken into lo...more
So far I've described a complex structur...more
Her story is told by moving back and forth from past to present, which I thought was very well done by the talented Mr. Boyd. The subject matter of the brutality of the animals was...more
This book sat on my shelf at home for about a year before I picked it up. I only bought it because I'd heard the author's name somewhere; but had no real preconceptions about it.
Well, what a surprise it turned out to be. Very well written and engaging, I finished the book in record pace and couldn't really put it down, which says a lot because I'm fairly busy.
Boyd had an excellent way of dealing with topics that most of us never come across, intertwining them togethe...more
Even though I had to look up words every other page or so, it was a quick, enjoyable, and easy read. The one things I'm unsure of is Boyd's ability to speak with a feminine voi...more
The story follows Hope in her interactions and relationships both primate and human.
It was easy to read but with fabulous imagery and well-developed characters. It certainly had literary merit and undoubtedly more could be read into the book than I tried. Equally, however, it was enjoyable as a ripping yarn (which is more the level I took it at).
I only gave it 4 stars because I didnt really understand the deeper literary mea...more
William Boyd, he's not Hopalong Cassidy, is one of the best writers I've read. He's a master of language, writing pungently and vividly. He knows the subject matter in his books, botany, apes, math, philosophy. There aren't a lot of writers who throw 20-40 new words my way in a book, and not Bill Buckley asshole-type words either. Words in context, wh...more
The NYTimes review is also laudatory.
This is the story of Hope Clearwater. It looks at three phases of her life. Her short lived marriage in England, her work studying wild chimps in Africa and her current existence living in a beach hut on the beach of the title. All three strands weave in and around each other, moving back and forward in time. The overall theme of struggle and resistance runs through all the different parts of the story, making links that apply to life in general
This novel has many themes that capture what one remarkable woman, Hope, has to deal with during the relatively short period of her life story told here. At least one of the problems she deals with will resonate with your own struggles.
How do you make a life for yourself? What do you do in the face of your spouse's or colleague's utter self-absorption and madness? How should you act when a community (human or chimp) loses its reason. Can...more
Picked this up to read on holiday and wasn't quite sure if it was going to be my cup of tea. It seemed to feature a lot of African chimpanzee watching and this is what I wasn't at all sure about.
Couldn't have been more wrong. Strong female lead - a chimpanzee watcher, yes, but also good scientist in a facility who are not quite straight with their research data. And her relationship with a slightly mad mathematician making up more of the storyline than I thought at the outset.
Good stuff and defi...more
Why the longish preface about Blake? Brazzaville Beach is, to some degree, abou...more
Here's why I am not sure what to think about the book in the end, though. I felt like there is some deeper me...more
Hope, an anthropology researcher, looks back on two difficult episodes in her life; her marriage to mathematician John Clearwater and her subsequent work with chimpanzees at the Grosso Avore Research center in the Congo, where she gets caught up in the civil war. I found the story of her work in the Congo with the chimpanzees particularly riveting. My only complaint is that I expec...more
At the age of nine years he attended Gordonstoun school, in Moray, Scotland an...more