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Waiting for Sunrise

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  6,602 ratings  ·  837 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 Harper (first published February 16th 2012)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,602 ratings  ·  837 reviews

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Adrian White
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Vit Babenco
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many things had happened on the eve of the First World War: both crucial and mysterious…
It is a clear and dazzling summer’s day in Vienna. You are standing in a skewed pentangle of lemony sunshine at the sharp corner of Augustiner Strasse and Augustinerbastei, across from the opera house, indolently watching the world pass by you, waiting for someone or something to catch and hold your attention, to generate a tremor of interest. There’s a curious frisson in the city’s atmosphere today, almost s
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

"Rief - is that Scottish?"
"Old English. It means 'thorough', some say. And I've also been told it's Anglo-Saxon dialect for 'wolf'. All very confusing."
"A thorough wolf. Wolfishly thorough. What about the 'Ulrich'? Are you part German?"
"My mother is Austrian."

Lysander Ulrich Rief is a young man who visits Vienna in the year 1914, hoping one of Dr. Freud's followers, a British psychologist named Bensimon, can find a cure for his inner demons. In between talking about his dreams and his repressed
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Tony Mac
May 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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
Alexander McNabb
May 20, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ww1-ww2, mystery
The first book I’ve read by this author: I had another on hold and saw this meanwhile.

Sunrise is ... well, imagine John Buchan’s The 39 Steps with sex. And what ludicrously un-Edwardian sex it is too. Beautiful women fling themselves at Hannay’s alter ego (the half-Austrian, Lysander Rief) in what can only be described as 1960’s style romps. Reif, meet Bond ... James Bond!

This is basically knees-bent running-around intrigue, and with dialogue that is imaginatively appropriate for the era – the
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Elizabeth K.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-new-reads
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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Feb 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
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'.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwi, scottish
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)
May 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
A quite enjoyable book on espionage during World War I.

4* Restless
3* Armadillo
2* Solo
3*A Haunting
4* Sweet Caress
4* Waiting for Sunrise
TR Any Human Heart
TR An Ice-Cream War
TR The New Confessions
Jake Goretzki
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Fred Shaw
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this so much I didn't want it to end. Great character in Lysander Rief: a young Englishman, a stage actor turned espionage pro, a man who frequently falls for the fairer sex, and is able to put on a disguise that his own mother won't recognize. The story begins in Vienna, just prior to WW I, 1914, where Rief is seeking the advice of a psychiatrist to deal with a personal problem. After all Vienna is Freud's milieu. The doctor he sees is English however and he falls for a woman ...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.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
switterbug (Betsey)
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Just wanted to make sure Sweet Caress wasn't a one off and gladly it wasn't. Boyd is in fact a good writer. Alas spy novels aren't particularly my thing, so when, closer to the halfway point, the story veered in that direction, it didn't particularly engage as much as a regular historical novel would, but it was still a very enjoyable read. Strongly reminiscent of C.J. Sansom's Winter in Madrid. An unwitting man (theatre actor of all things) gets drawn into political and military intrigue, in th ...more
Too complicated. Too unclear. It is pretty meaningless to say that life is totally subjective.

I like Boyd's language.... even in this book. I like how he creates people that draw your interest and how he throws in history and details about literature and music and tons of other topics too. These details are fascinating. But a book is also the story that is being told and the message that is being conveyed. Both completely failed me in this book. You get a very complicated spy story that is impos
Nancy Oakes
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gave-away
I loved it. Absolutely.

Lysander Rief arrives in Vienna in 1913 to receive psychological help for a sexual problem. His closest friend in England had convinced him to try psychoanalysis; taking his advice, Lysander took out all of his savings and moved to Austria. At his first session with Dr. Bensimon, he is advised to keep a journal, which Lysander calls his "Autobiographical Investigations," which Bensimon says will hopefully yield a direct insight into Lysander's unconscious mind during the
Description: 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, hazel eyes and her unusual, intense beauty.

Later the same day they meet again, and a more composed Hettie Bull intro
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
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just what I wanted over Christmas holiday. So well written, creative, sexy, intriguing, WW1 spies and lives London to Vienna to France and back, lovers, betrayal and the advancement of psychiatry at the time. The best ever atmospheric descriptions.
Spies and lies...

When young actor Lysander Rief consults an eminent psychiatrist in pre-WW1 Vienna about a problem, Dr Bensimon introduces him to the concept of parallelism. A technique developed by the good doctor himself, the idea is to identify the event at the root of a problem and then to invent an alternative history of the event, embellishing and repeating it until it feels like a truer memory than the thing that actually happened. And this book feels like an exercise in parallelism itsel
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
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Νομίζω μπορώ να διακρίνω ένα νήμα να συνδέει όλα τα μυθιστορήματα του Boyd που έχω διαβάσει κι αυτό είναι η ταυτότητα. Η αναζήτηση, η απόκρυψη. Ποιοι είμαστε, ποιοι θέλουμε να είμαστε, ποιοι φαίνεται ότι είμαστε. Και τι πιο ταιριαστό σ'αυτή την εξερεύνηση από μια ιστορία κατασκοπίας. Η πλοκή πάει από το Α στο Β χωρίς φλυαρίες. Τα κεφάλαια με αφήγηση στο πρώτο πρόσωπο αλλάζουν ελάχιστα αλλά ικανά την οπτική γωνία όταν φτάσεις στις τελευταίες σελίδες. Είναι τελικά ο πρωταγωνιστής, ηθοποιός που γίν ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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How revealing is the finale? 6 43 Dec 10, 2018 02:33PM  
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Note: William^^Boyd

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
“She's half mad and three parts drunk.” 10 likes
“No human being is entirely innocent” 7 likes
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