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Sunday, January 10, 2021


This is the first William Boyd novel that I have read but it will certainly not be the last. (Review by Fiona de Goede)

The focus of this novel is on three characters – a film producer, a novelist and an actress. It is set in Brighton, England in the summer of 1968, the height of the Swingin’ Sixties.

The three characters are beautifully crafted and the reader is immediately drawn into the life of each one. Elfrida Wing, the novelist, has writer’s block that she tries to rectify by imbibing copious amounts of gin and tonic or vodka and orange juice. She has crafty ways of trying to hide this from her husband but probably from herself as well – she is in serious denial of the extent of her dependence on booze. She tries to become motivated writing a novel about the last day of the life of Virginia Woolf – an author that she is compared to as being the “new” Woolf.

However, despite doing research and going through the motions of starting the new book, she cannot get any further than the first sentence of the opening paragraph. She continues to rewrite this on a daily basis, trying to improve on her choice of words but after each attempt, she turns to her gin, cleverly hidden in a bottle of Sarson’s White Vinegar.

The film producer, Talbot Kydd, lives a double life. He appears to be a distinguished gentleman with a perfectly acceptable wife and grown-up children, healthy and financially secure and yet he yearns to live the life he would prefer – however, this secret he keeps hidden from everyone.

The third character, Anny Vikund, is an American actress, starring in the movie that Talbot is producing. She and the leading man, Troy Blaze, are having an affair. She also has a lover, Jacques, who lives in Paris. Anny is divorced from Cornell Weekes, an American terrorist who escaped from prison and is now suspected to be in England. She wants to keep her affair secret because, as she says to Troy “my life is complicated.” She is concerned that Weekes will track her down and she does not want to become involved with him, his life or the CIA that is investigating him.

The story then unfolds and develops at a steady pace and the reader is drawn into each of the trio of characters’ lives. As their private lives begin to unravel and personal pressures start to mount, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep public and private life apart. The age-old question that humankind has grappled with for centuries is asked: what makes life worth living?

The author, William Boyd, was born in 1952 in Accra, Ghana – he grew up there and in Nigeria. He is the acclaimed author of 15 bestselling novels and five collections of stories. He is married and divides his time between London and south-west France.

This is the first William Boyd novel that I have read but it will certainly not be the last. I enjoyed his writing style – it is elegant and the plot development moved along at the correct pace. His characters are credible, the dialogue is crisp and the overall descriptive language I found quite beautiful.

Trio is published by Penguin RandomHouse - ISBN 978-0-241-29596-0 - Fiona de Goede