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The Blue Afternoon

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  1,572 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Boyd, the author of A Good Man in Africa and Brazzaville Beach, here gives us something entirely new, part suspense, part romance, all grand storytelling.

A young woman, waylaid by an old man who claims to be her father, hears his story of corruption and intrigue as the two of them embark on a remarkable journey.
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published February 28th 1995 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published May 25th 1993)
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Best 1930s Historical Fiction
71st out of 76 books — 144 voters
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244th out of 327 books — 32 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,351)
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Marwa AlBoeisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2015 Chrissie rated it liked it
GOOD story!

I have now read four books by William Boyd. I like how he writes. This is a mystery, and I am not a mystery reader, but I picked it up simply because I was pretty darn sure I would not be disappointed. I wasn’t.

I am beginning to see a pattern in his writing. In this book, as in his others, you are delivered an interesting story. The themes covered here are the occupation of the Philippines by America, the birth of aviation, the improvement of the surgical science at the beginning of
Feb 20, 2013 Fiona rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
I'm so disappointed in this book. The whole premise, that an architect on the verge of a successful career would drop everything to travel to Europe with a stranger who says he's her father, is just ridiculous. Because it's Boyd, I overlooked the convenience of it as a mechanism for telling Cariscant's story but I just couldn't get into it at all. I left not caring what happened. I'm glad this isn't the first of Boyd's books that I've read because, if it had been, it would be the last. There are ...more
Alan Wells
Apr 08, 2013 Alan Wells rated it it was amazing
A beautifully told story within a story, The Blue Afternoon seems a novel that is at its core, about the endearing and enduring power of real, personal love; and just how far this love will impel a person to push the limits of their actions. It takes the reader on a quest to far off places and back and forth through two time periods; and along the way provides historical and cultural perspectives that at the same time muddle and affirm the seemingly unchanging human conditions that always endure ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Penny rated it it was ok
I read this for a book club - if it had not been chosen I probably would not have read it. I have not read Boyd before.

The story is disjointed and awkward in places. We start off in the US with a woman going through relationship problems and we have several pages of rather dull architecture description then her 'father' turns up and she doesnt know who he is.

The father's story then unfolds in flashback. It is set in the Phillipines and this part of the book picks up and begins to gather pace an
Amanda Brookfield
Mar 03, 2015 Amanda Brookfield rated it really liked it
I have been a loyal reader of William Boyd since A Good Man in Africa, his wonderful debut novel, published more years ago than I care to remember. On the frequent occasions I am asked to list authors whom I admire, William Boyd's name will invariably feature in my answer. I will often add that what I admire most about him is his chameleon ability to occupy any territory - emotional and physical - with complete authenticity. Whereas most writers find a style and stick with it (glad to have found ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Johnny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 22, 2011 Kiwiflora rated it really liked it
Because I like William Boyd's novels so much, I chose this book without bothering to read the blurb as to what it was about. Blind confidence? Of course not! I just knew it would be yet another fabulous story, with interesting characters, set in interesting times, and interesting places, doing interesting things and with a number of interesting twists! This novel was published in 1993 so it is one of Mr Boyd's earlier novels (he has now written 10) and at the time won two book awards.

Opening in
Monthly Book Group
Jan 18, 2014 Monthly Book Group rated it it was amazing
Super, excellent, clever! Boyd is a great writer, with a deceptively easy style, and flowing but muscular prose. He has an almost unparalleled skill for narrative, for sucking the reader in to any story he chose to tell. He has a striking lucidity of detail that animates his scenes. This novel, mainly set in the Philippines, has several different stories woven together within it. The most important is a passionate love story – of obsession, stalking, and a covert and fervent affair. While he is ...more
Mark Speed
Mar 03, 2014 Mark Speed rated it really liked it
Not my favourite Boyd novel, and not his best. However, it's much better than some of the work of the last decade. I think this was Boyd stretching his wings, and the result are what Boyd does best, which is to explore an era or history and insert some characters into the action who have a complex history which is further muddled by the forces at work around them. Some lovely, memorable and insane scenes here. I'm not going to tell you what they are, but you will know them when you get there. On ...more
Mavis Thresher
Jul 18, 2013 Mavis Thresher rated it did not like it
Didn't finish it, not up to what I expect from William Boyd.
Dec 29, 2014 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Blue Afternoon. I thought this was referring to the meteorological phenomena that occurs in Manila but I think it might be an oblique reference to the descriptions of the relationship Salvador Carriscant has with his lover in the nippa barn......

Other reviewers have critised the ease with which Kay Fischer agrees to travel from the USA to manila with Salvador, and fund the trip, in pursuit of his claim to be her father. I think this is rather harsh and is wholly plausible give the turmoil in
She faced him. Square, strong. Small, pale-lashed brown eyes. Odd, that combination. White skin, freckle-spattered, but very white. You'd think blue eyes. But no, brown, like unmilked coffee, a fierce stare. Tiny blisters of perspiration in the well-defined groove of her top lip. 'I shot it,' she said. A soft accent. Shaht. Southern, was it? 'I'm very sorry, it was a complete accident, I'm just learning -' His tongue sat inert in his dry throat.
Readable, but not Boyd's best novel. Cariscant's t
May 22, 2014 Terry94705 rated it liked it
Two and a half stars. I like William Boyd, but this book was disappointing. I felt like he wrote a novel that he was not happy with --Salvator's story -- and then to punch it up, he nested it in the story of Salvator's daughter, Kay. It didn't work. I could not believe for a moment that Kay dropped everything to accompany (and pay for) this stranger (who says he's her father) in his quest to find his love of 30 years ago. Didn't believe it.

But Boyd is a smart and suspenseful writer, so I knew th
Danial Tanvir
Aug 23, 2016 Danial Tanvir rated it did not like it
this book was very badly written and it is sad that william boyd can write such a terrilble book.

it made no sense what so ever and there was actually no story at all.
its about a person who is followed by a man who says he is her father , it is based in 1936 in los angeles.

Andrew Smith
Nov 10, 2011 Andrew Smith rated it liked it
This is not William Boyd's best novel, let's make this clear. But this is a very good novel & very typical of Boyd's work : big story, complex plot, interesting people, no idea where he'll take it until you get there blah blah...
Lots of reviews of this book focus on a beginning & an ending that don’t quite fit, that feel superfluous. I agree, I think these are the weakest elements. But in between the reader is treated to a tale involving a doomed love affairs which weaves in an account o
Oct 19, 2011 Lefty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I read Armadillo many years ago, I've found a reliable voice in Boyd that I really envy. His books, and Blue Afternoon is no exception, are always books that stick around for a while when I've finished them. I think about the characters as more than characters. They are almost like people I've met--they way they are fleshed out and driven around in the story is one of Boyd's best talents. I finished the book early this morning and I'm still thinking about Dr. Carriscant. Wondering wha ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Jc rated it it was ok
Shelves: romans
This is an odd book. The beginning does not make sense: why would this woman take this old lunatic on a wild goose chase to Portugal? The description of Manila after the US invasion is interesting with quirky bits like the local medical standards and the adventure with the plane. Overlaid on top of the love story is the mystery novel part that is confused and which the author does not even attempt to solve. It all ends abruptly and leaves the reader frustrated. All together this is not W Boyd at ...more
Nov 25, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it
A very unusual book which could be considered a period mystery, but stands as excellent literature on its own merits. The book starts in 1936 Los Angeles and follows a young woman architect for just enough pages for the reader to get interested in her. Then a mysterious man shows up and claims to be her father. After 70 pages she is then whisked away on a cross-Atlantic sea voyage to help her father find a woman in Lisbon. The bulk of the book then serves to explain why. In a slightly awkward de ...more
Nov 23, 2015 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unusual story told in three parts - first in Los Angeles, second, the largest part in Manila, and finally in Lisbon. A murder mystery and a love story. One of the main characters, Kay Fisher, is an architect and the story spends quite a bit of time trying to educate me on how and why this architect does what she does. This should have been interesting but that part of the story didn't interest me at all. What did interest me was the mystery surrounding an old man who appears and claims to be her ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Eileen rated it it was amazing
I was happy to discover a William Boyd novel I hadn't yet read. The setting is offbeat -- the Philippines in 1902 -- and the story of conspiracy and intrigue takes us back to a mostly forgotten war.
Eylül Çetinbaş
Jul 05, 2013 Eylül Çetinbaş rated it it was amazing
Ahh, William Boyd bewitched me again as he always have done. Some hysteria, some misery, some secrecy, all of the above and more are commingled perfectly together. It was a harrowing experience to see it standing there on the table, wholly completed. Never the less, The Blue Afternoon enlightened me very much, granted me with more optimistic and more aware feeling schemes.
Andy Weston
Mar 29, 2012 Andy Weston rated it it was amazing
I am a Boyd fan and this certainly didn't disappoint. It is quite different to other Boyd novels I have read though, and the better for that. I expect spies, prisoners of war, Scottish Borders in Boyd's stuff, and there's not much here.

The characters are completely believable and the story reaches a wonderful climax. As so rarely found, the final 50 pages are the best!
Jul 19, 2012 Sue rated it it was ok
I love Boyd's use of language and the story and setting were intriguing. The central romantic relationship had intensity, but no depth. Several characters felt under-developed. Interesting read, but not one I'd recommend.
This was a great story. Well drawn characters, great sense of place, pacey plot, murder mystery and romance. The story within the story hooks you in and keeps you turning the page.

The story is Carriscant's, and yet you are forced to ask whether his story is ' no more absurd than any of the other notions we use to prop up our shaky lives'- as Kay reflects.

But whatever the notions are, Carriscant is happy about his apparant good fortune, and 'caught between the perpetuities of the sun and rain' on
Eva Silverstone
Sep 08, 2015 Eva Silverstone rated it really liked it
While it took me a bit to get into this book I really liked the writing and once the story got going it was a page turner. Mystery, love story, bits of history and social mores. The descriptions of early surgeries and the conditions of the surgery theaters were fascinating and I wanted to learn more. Also, I (like the character Kay) had never heard of the Fillipino-American war until this book. The concurrence of many things happening at once was realistic and made for good reading but I also wa ...more
Feb 16, 2016 Melania rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
WILLIAM BOYD - Dupa amiaza albastra

n Los Angelesul anului 1936, Kay Fischer, o tanara si ambitioasa arhitecta, este urmarita de Salvador Carriscant, un necunoscut enigmatic ce pretinde a fi tatal ei. La doar cateva saptamani de la intalnirea lor, Kay porneste impreuna cu el intr-o exotica si extraordinara calatorie, prin Manila si apoi Lisabona, pe urmele trecutului batranului, pornind in cautarea unui criminal si reusind, in cele din urma, sa transforme calatoria lor intr-o glorificare a unei i
Tony Mac
Jul 12, 2012 Tony Mac rated it liked it
A good, solid and typically unpredictable drama from Boyd, even if he does seem to be showing off his research skills a little too much.

A lengthy prologue in 1930s Los Angeles serves to introduce the lead character but overstays its welcome while Boyd lectures us needlessly on the architectual fashions and philosophies of the time (maybe he had been reading Ayn Rand). Things pick up when we get to turn of the 20th Century Phillipines for the bulk of the plot. I liked the mixture of murder myster
Jul 24, 2014 Tamara rated it really liked it
A complex plot, historical fiction, mystery, love story. Begins and ends in 1936, from the perspective of an architect going through her own personal hard times. She meets a man who claims to be her father and the meat of the book sandwich is the story he tells her about his life as a surgeon in the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century. I enjoyed learning about a place and time which was unfamiliar. The high level of detail throughout requires the reader stay alert and keeps the mind ...more
Jun 04, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing
This novel made my two and a half hour return flight from Ibiza to Manchester seem like a short bus ride into town. Turn of the twentieth century Philippines? I don't have the faintest clue how accurate Boyd's research was but he left me wanting to find out more about the colonisation of this region. After reading Ordinary Thunderstorms I now have a taste for Boyd and, for me, Blue Afternoon is the best so far. Armadillo next.

What drew me into this novel was the fallibility of Carrascant and the
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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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“Dignity was the first quality to be abandoned when the heart took over the running of human affairs.” 9 likes
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