I live on Brazzaville Beach...
I am here because two sets of strange and extraordinary events happened to me...
One in England, first, and then one in Africa.
On Brazzaville Beach, on the edge of Africa, Hope Clearwater examines the complex circumstances that brought her there. Sifting the details for evidence of her own innocence or guilt, she tells her engrossing story with a blunt and beguiling honesty that not only intrigues and disturbs but is also completely enthralling.
©1990 William Boyd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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"An absolutely brilliant book"
Its complexity with the different strands of the story, yet so easy to listen to, the story has great rhythms to it.
I did like the central character Hope the most. She overcame obstacles in her professional life and in her personal life, that did not necessarily lead to a traditional happy ending in any part of the book. She was strong, fallible and likeable, Hope will continue to have an interesting life, I cannot imagine her ever settling for an office job.
Many moments in this book moved me, quite complex. Finding out about her most recent lover, floored me. Serious read here, not for the fainthearted.
Loved, I wish there was more to read.
"My first William Boyd and certainly not my last"
Hope Clearwater is a young woman who has already accumulated quite a few harrowing life experiences, and she tells the story of what has led up to her living on Brazzaville Beach in some unnamed part of Africa. First comes a marriage to a mathematician shortly after having finished her own studies as a researcher. Completely obsessed by his research into the mathematics of unpredictability, her husband displays more and more distressing signs of mental instability until Hope must face the fact that she cannot continue living with him. Then comes her work in Africa as part of a research organization that focuses on studying primates in the wild. Here again, she soon sees some disturbing behaviour on the part of the chimps under her observation, which runs contrary to the long-held belief that they are peaceful and gentle animals, and rather more like humans than anyone, including her boss, is willing to accept. Brilliantly written and filled with unexpected twists and turns, I was continually impressed with the way Boyd incorporated what must have been an incredible amount of research (into primate behaviour and advanced mathematics, among other things) into a very engaging novel. Great narrations by Harriet Walter, who does a very convincing job as Hope Clearwater.
"Awesome. In every way."
Just buy this one. You are going to be exhilarated and moved, and you will never forget this book.
"Disappointing despite 4 stars"
I loved Restless and Any Human Heart, listened to it that order and although I enjoyed this, it's not as good as the other two and I can't put my finger on the reason. I wonder if it's the reader? Harrier Walter reads beautifully, the voices are very well done and yet ... and yet... She has a very distinctive voice and the very clarity of her diction and the rather clipped vowels create a brittle feel to Hope Clearwater, who is anything but brittle or fragile; like the women in Restless she is independent, strong and resourceful. I think Harriet Walter would be brilliant reading Jane Austen or PG Woodhouse - the crisp accent just letting through the emotions, humour and wit - but I thought she was a bit too posh for this and maybe, oddly, too good for it too. She would be more suited to writing with more depth to it. The editing has also been severe with the break between chapters often non existent so, especially near the beginning before I realised this was the case, I was floundering as the story moved backwards and forwards in time and place without any perceptible pause to indicate a new chapter. But I decided to give it 4 stars - 3 seemed really too mean for what was still a very enjoyable listen.
Another great story by William Boyd. This audio book was well narated and I thoroughly enjoyed another of Boyd's excellent novels. Please record some more.
I loved this one, both the story and the narration. I felt the narrator really fitted in with the main character but I can appreciate she may not be to everyone's taste. However if you want an easy listening book with a good story then this will fit the bill.
"Disappointing swerve in the story"
Although I loved the book when I first read it years ago listening to it now I felt frustrated that it leapt to a totally different type of book
"Amazingly complex tale"
I read this many years ago in hardcopy.
This is a fabulous rendition of one of Boyd's best novels. Harriet Walter brings Hope Clearwater to life with tremendous feeling and skill.
"A good read!"
An excellent story with an unusual setting in a chimpanzee research camp. Harriet Walter has a great voice and I loved her narration. I enjoyed the mathematical bits without fully understanding them all. The various strands were pulled together neatly at the end and i finished the book feeling satisfied that it had run its course.
I've not read W.B before so am eager to try another by him.
"A study in Africa"
William Boyd tells a wonderful tale of a study of chimpanzees in Africa but manages to intertwine it with an ordinary life in England and the backdrop of a romance.
It is an interesting book with the study of the animals taking centre stage. It brings to life this part of Africa and paints a vivid picture of life there as part of a team of experts.
All the characters were beautifully portrayed throughout the book.
In places the story is very intense and provides an insight into the social structure of the animals; even giving some remarkable if not disturbing facts about them. There are parts of the book that made me sob out loud and other parts that struck home with me. The roller coaster ride between Africa and England leaves little time to dwell on the more horrific parts and quickly takes the listener to more pleasant images.
This is a sedate adventure story and well worth spending time listening to it so I highly recommend it.
"great writer/great reader - just not for me"
Let me first off say I adore William Boyd books (and audibles) and unlike some feedback, I personally think Harriet Walter is just ideal at reading this particular story. I think her languid clipped tones are spot on for Hope. Unlike other Boyd books I just find this far too introspective. I listen to audible books when I am striding out walking the dogs; in the car on way to meetings; cooking and eating my meals - I try really hard to choose books that will entertain me - and that I can really look forward to hearing more of. When I didn't actually want to hear more of this story I stopped.
I always buy unabridged audiobooks because I like to spend time with the characters and enjoy the language - listening is the same as reading in this way. With most books this leisurely journey takes place over several days, slotted in to spare half hours. Brazzeville Beach, however, could not be 'slotted in'. The narrative is utterly compelling made more so by Harriet Walter's calm, gentle delivery. The dramatic undulations of the narrative are conveyed by nuance and pace in the reading, not by volume or exaggerated emphasis. It demands our attention; half-hearted inattention will not do. I found it a rich and rewarding listen; my time well spent.
I love William Boyd as an author. He tells a good story which holds your interest and his style of writing is very appealing. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did because I thought the subject matter may not have been 'my style' but I was really drawn into it. I highly recommend any of his books and this one doesn't disappoint. I have now read / listened to all of his books except Restless which is sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to read it. Harriet Walter has quite a unique reading style which, possibly, may not appeal to everybody but I find her quite charming
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