Hardback: 464 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: There was a mistake made on the day I was born, when I come to think of it.
Favourite Quote: “However long your stay on this small planet lasts, and whatever happens during it, the most important thing is that-from time to time-you feel life's sweet caress.”
Review Quote: An utterly compelling read . The effect of Amory is that of an interesting woman with a life well-lived, who is not content to sit back and be beautiful as an adored wife or mistress. She grasps every opportunity with both hands, wherever it leads her. Not a bad epitaph, and a tribute to Boyd's skill that we miss her like a friend when we, and she, reach the end (Independent)
Main Character: Amory Clay (Fictional 19C Photographer)
Setting: London, England (United Kingdom)
New York (the state) (United States) Literary Awards: Walter Scott Prize Nominee (2016)
My Opinion: William Boyd is of the few male novelists, that I have come across that writes 100% successfully using the voice of a female protagonist. Sweet Caress tells the life story of Amory Clay in an autobiographical style which Boyd has carried off very skilfully making this a bold and thoroughly enjoyable read. The moods times and places written about are all perfectly captured for the reader. Highly recommended.
Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:
When Amory Clay was born, in the decade before the Great War, her disappointed father gave her an androgynous name and announced the birth of a son. But this daughter was not one to let others define her; Amory became a woman who accepted no limits to what that could mean, and, from the time she picked up her first camera, one who would record her own version of events.
Moving freely between London and New York, between photojournalism and fashion photography, and between the men who love her on complicated terms, Amory establishes her reputation as a risk taker and a passionate life traveler. Her hunger for experience draws her to the decadence of Weimar Berlin and the violence of London's blackshirt riots, to the Rhineland with Allied troops and into the political tangle of war-torn Vietnam. In her ambitious career, the seminal moments of the 20th century will become the unforgettable moments of her own biography, as well.
In Sweet Caress, Amory Clay comes wondrously to life, her vibrant personality enveloping the reader from the start. And, running through the novel, her photographs over the decades allow us to experience this vast story not only with Amory's voice but with her vision. William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.
Video Trailer for 'Sweet Caress' Courtesy of YouTube
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 Moray, Scotland and then Nice University (Diploma of French Studies) and Glasgow University (MA Hons in English and Philosophy), where he edited the Glasgow University Guardian. He then moved to Jesus College, Oxford in 1975 and completed a PhD thesis on Shelley. For a brief period he worked at the New Statesman magazine as a TV critic, then he returned to Oxford as an English lecturer teaching the contemporary novel at St Hilda's College (1980-83). It was while he was here that his first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), was published.
Boyd spent eight years in academia, during which time his first film, Good and Bad at Games, was made. When he was offered a college lecturership, which would mean spending more time teaching, he was forced to choose between teaching and writing.
Boyd was selected in 1983 as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists' in a promotion run by Granta magazine and the Book Marketing Council. He also became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in the same year, and is also an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has been presented with honorary doctorates in literature from the universities of St. Andrews, Stirling and Glasgow. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005.
Boyd has been with his wife Susan since they met as students at Glasgow University and all his books are dedicated to her. His wife is editor-at-large of Harper's Bazaar magazine, and they currently spend about thirty to forty days a year in the US. He and his wife have a house in Chelsea, West London but spend most of the year at their chateau in Bergerac in south west France, where Boyd produces award-winning wines.
Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.
Goodreads Author Profile William Boyd - Amazon Book Page
YouTube Video - Sweet Caress William Boyd - Author's Official Website