Having It All: Chest Colds, Allergies and “Any Human Heart”

The double whammy. I’ve got a chest cold and my allergies have me barely able to hold my head up straight or hear very well. All semblance of elegance has deserted me.

On days like these, I like to curl up with a book, read and doze and generally retire from public life. Unfortunately, I’ve just finished a book that leaves me hesitant to begin another. It is far too good; a tough act to follow. It is, very possibly, the best novel that I’ve read in the last decade. You’ve probably seen the PBS miniseries, which lingers in my Netflix instant watch queue until Mrs. E. can read the book, this book:

There are those who will tell you that the life story of Logan Gonzago Mountstuart is one of a typical Englishman. Others will insist that it is a depressing saga. There is the camp who will mention that it is by turns funny and uplifting. All will tell you that it is a hard book to reach the end of. For someone like me, staring down the barrel of mid-life, having reinvented myself many times in a number of different careers, having lived in a few different countries and having been married now twice, “Any Human Heart” by William Boyd has it all.

Here you will find Bloomsbury, the Spanish Civil War, the world between the wars and the famous American expats living in Paris. You will meet art and famous artists, terrorism and espionage. Picasso, Joyce, F. Scott Fitz-Hemingway, Waugh, Connolly, Woolfe, Ian Fleming and even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor make an appearance.

Though he may be left with nothing more than memories, his diaries and well-tailored suits, LGM’s life is one well-lived. Or perhaps it is more appropriate to say that he has fully lived, bought the ticket, taken the ride and kept his eyes open the whole time. That may be the best advantage to being a fictional character.

If you haven’t read the book, please do. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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