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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  17,278 ratings  ·  1,452 reviews
“I am Eva Delectorskaya,” Sally Gilmartin announces, and so on a warm summer afternoon in 1976 her daughter, Ruth, learns that everything she ever knew about her mother was a carefully constructed lie. Sally Gilmartin is a respectable English widow living in picturesque Cotswold village; Eva Delectorskaya was a rigorously trained World War II spy, a woman who carried fake ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published 2007 by Bloomsbury (first published September 4th 2006)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,278 ratings  ·  1,452 reviews

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Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a compelling, smart, and literate thriller. It is both a page-turner and a profound meditation on identity--on what we think we know about others and ourselves. The flashback sections were definitely the strength of the book, but all-in-all this is a terrific novel and certainly one that rises above the usual genre fare.
Steven Godin
William Boyd goes all John John le Carré and has written a pretty good spy thriller that felt like reading a movie, with it's fast-paced tense narrative, and moments that were utterly gripping.
Central to the story is Eva Delectorskaya, the daughter of a Russian family in 1930s Paris. After mourning her brother's death she is approached, wooed to attraction, by the dapper Lucas Romer, who wants her to leave her shipping company to work for his mysterious British organisation against the Nazi thre
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 rated it really liked it
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
Mark Porton
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Restless by Wlliam Boyd is a very enjoyable WWII Spy Story and as you'd expect from Boyd, brilliantly written. It's such a nice change to see the two main characters in a spy story being females, mother Sally and daughter Ruth. I loved both of these characters.

The story is set in the 1970s with WWII flashbacks (the spy bits), for me it worked really well. Just as I was finishing a section of the 1970s part of the story, I was ready for the 1940s part, and vice versa. I thought it was a really fr
L.A. Starks
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rare spy novel I saw recommended and recommend myself for its well-drawn, fascinating female protagonist (Eva) and her daughter Ruth, the other major character. Chapters move between the two women's POVs, two different time periods (early WWII and the 1970s), and two (general) locations--US in the 1940s and England in the 1970s.

Cerebral yet gripping and humane. Highly recommended. The biggest surprise is that this book is not better known and more celebrated.
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
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tag me as a Boyd fan! There aren't many male writers who can genuinely pull off the voice of a woman, but in his case, he did that twice.

Here we have a young-ish single mother who works as a language tutor to professionals who've arrived extremely capable in their professional pursuits but who can barely speak a word of the Queen's tongue. She's also procrastinating on a thesis at Oxford, but between hosting uninvited international house guests, suddenly being courted by one of her students, an
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
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 01, 2012 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
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, 2020
This was a great read! It’s a historical spy thriller novel told in two timelines, the first during WWII and the second in the 70s. Ruth is a young single mother and English language teacher. She is surprised when her mother tells her that her real name is Eva Delectorskaya and she worked for British intelligence during the war. So it’s about secrets and what do you really know about other people. It’s a plot that was easy to get involved particularly Eva’s story and this section is rounded up r ...more
Feb 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Feb 28, 2011 rated it liked it
This was the second book by William Boyd I have read. I didn't like it as much as Any Human Heart--it didn't seem as rich. But it was still a good read. Spy novels tend to focus on men. This was an interesting perspective on what it would be like for a woman to live a double life--to hide much of who she is from her daughter. ...more
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

May 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
2.5 Stars.

A very basic thriller, which is quite disappointing. I enjoyed the flashbacks though at some times the whole Spy shtick was quite ridiculous. "Don´t trust anyone" .. oh really?

Ruth is the daughter of the ~spy~ and she is a single mother which in the 70s wasn´t as widely accepted as today and that´s about the only relatively interesting thing about her. She is a teacher, and she gets involved conveniently with some dangerous people. Meh

Eva´s story was fine but I found the premise of tel
Boyd’s writing is seamless and attests to the strength of his craft. I loved the twin narratives of Sally Gilmartin and her daughter Ruth, both strong but flawed protagonists. Many authors struggle with propelling intertwining narratives from different eras, but not Boyd. Both were fascinating and each story had a significant impact on the events of the other. Since this is a novel of espionage, secrets and lies abound, but it is also a deeply personal story, one where a mother and daughter each ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 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
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
David Ball
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Chris Hall
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-written good old-fashioned WW2 spy thriller. Starting with a dramatic revelation of the former spy to her daughter, the action alternates between the unfolding spy story and the daughter's present day (1976) life as a single mother, working as a TEFL teacher in Oxford.

The main characters are well-drawn and the action is compelling, with a nice balance between the alternating points of view and the building intrigue.

Page-turning, yet not too demanding, I really enjoyed this book. I
Ian Laird
Jan 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: wartime, fiction
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
Amy Plum
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I haven't read a spy novel in a long time, and absolutely loved this. Much more than a spy novel, it's an exploration of relationships and how one's take on one's life can change when a parent's story is told. ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

I kept getting it in my head that I didn't like this author, but I finally figured out I had him confused with two other authors with similar names whose works I can't stand. I'm glad I got that cleared up, because this book is a real Oscar Mayer. I'm looking forward to reading more from William Boyd very soon.
Dec 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Just arrived from UK through BM.

After have listen to the audiobook version, I decided to read the printed version.
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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

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149 likes · 16 comments
“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.” 9 likes
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