'Waiting for Sunrise' asks: What happened in pre-WWI Vienna? - The Seattle Times
But she also, within months, lands him in forensic difficulties that are as much of a shock to the reader as they are to Lysander. But while he's been distracted, war has been brewing. The fundamental person to send him off-track is the all-too-aptly named Hettie Bull: a gentleman psychiatric patient who's also an artist. Daedalian plot points do take over cove-driven action in the final strain. But certain wild-card factors, especially those provided by the blithely intractable Hettie, keep things pleasurably unhinged until the end. This being Boyd, nothing goes according to diagram. by William Boyd. His future federation to actress Blanche Blondel, he feels, hangs on his capability faculty to get himself sexually sorted out. Oddball subsidiary characters — distinctly, Lysander's gay uncle Hamo, just back from explorations in Africa — add to the active swirl of action. " And its significant question — "What had really happened in Vienna in 1914. " — stays in gamble until its last few pages. The more somber substance of the novel is stated well into the reserve: "All history is the history of unintended consequences. They necessitate his affair flight from Vienna back to London with the inform appropriate of British diplomatic and military personnel. When it breaks out, he's conscripted into a spy calling (tracking down a top British authentic who's leaking information to the Germans) that makes the already gnarly events in Vienna still more demanding to read. While it doesn't match his masterpieces "Any Benignant Heart" and "The New Confessions," "Sunrise" marks a sedulous return to form for Boyd following the choppy, lackluster "Workaday Thunderstorms" and the polished but almost too-well-groomed World War II thriller "Restless. As Lysander himself notes midway with the aid the book, "My life seems to be on-going on a track I have nothing to do with — I'm a passenger on a exercise but I have no idea of the route it's taking or its incontrovertible destination. The book is also droll on how surely Lysander's stage-celebrity distracts his would-be helpers in Vienna: "Do you have knowledge of Ellen Terry. Once back in England, he thinks he's unconditioned to continue his stage career, even if marriage to Blanche is no longer in the cards. Boyd's anecdotal moves briskly, and his local color — whether he's describing prewar Vienna, excuse in neutral Switzerland, an internment tent in Wales for Germans caught in the U. K. when war was declared, or zeppelin bombardments of London if ever hostilities are underway — is deftly done. And British novelist William Boyd makes the most of them in his latest ticket, "Waiting for Sunrise. Harper, 353 pp. , $25. 99. Sex, psychiatry and Vienna on the eve of In seventh heaven War I — those are promising ingredients for a novel. "Sunrise" is a thriller in its way, but its most beguiling passages come in the cardinal two-thirds as it traces the troubles of London actor Lysander Ulrich Rief who, in 1913, has traveled to Vienna seeking a corn for his "anorgasmia" (inability to climax during sex). Boyd has fun with the way Lysander's acting abilities nick him get out of scrapes — and the way the acting abilities of those hither him keep him off-balance.