Any Human Heart by William Boyd is the collection of diary entries from writer Logan Mountstuart; starting from the end of his days in high school (1923) up till his death (1971). The diary goes through important dates and periods in his life; from his ins and outs of love, relationships, his career as a writer, the world around him, and the growing and transformation of the man himself. It also dwells on family, the friendships he has made with Hemingway, Ben and Peter and how those friendships change with age and events in their lives. The journal ranges from different cities from London, Oxford, Paris, Seville, as well as Switzerland, New York and Africa. His heart remains in both Paris and London, debating and switching locations many times throughout the journals.
I strictly bought this book based on how much I liked the Channel 4 miniseries adaptation of Any Human Heart. Then the only reason I watched the adaptation was because Matthew MacFadyen was in it, he played Mountstuart from the age of his 30’s up to his 50’s; if you need reminding of who he is there I shall, he played Mr. Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I have also met the man, no joke! Here we are outside the stage door in London; I went to see him in a play called Private Lives:
He is a lovely man, but I am getting off track! The journal was inspiring to see how a man developes and adapts throughout many different women of his life, cities he has lived in and changes in society. It was fascinating to see how young men were in the 1920’s and 30’s leading up to the World War II; seeing how they viewed politics, culture, sex and the endless possibilities of what they could be. There was a point of the book, later in the novel, where Logan is complaining about his 3rd wife cheating on him and leaving him; I could not feel sorry for him. In the beginning of the novel Logan marries and has constant affairs which he later ends up marrying his long time lover, Freya, who is the only woman he ever loved. You are unable to have any sympathy towards him because he had a habit of doing the same thing in the past; he got what was coming to him! But he does confess that he is not the most ideal person to give advice on marriage or relationships, at least he is aware they are not his strong suit. I was also in such amazement to how much people drank and smoked back then; of course I should not be as surprised since I do watch Mad Men on a regular basis. Whatever thoughts you had about people from out past; how society was in the 20’s up to the 60’s are completely blown out the water due to this journal. There are a great number of parties, infidelity, drinking, drugs, smoking and much more which is not quite the image we receive from our history books of how life was back then. Logan Mountstuart lived a very interesting life full of danger and he was always in the center of everything; maybe he had to be since he was a writer but who knows. I did like the book very much and would recommend to those who like reading biographies or firsthand tales of someone’s life.
Did anyone see Any Human Heart on Channel 4? Did you like it? Or have you met Matthew MacFadyen?
One thought on “A Book for Thought: A Review; Any Human Heart by William Boyd”
Hello Kaitlin….will be watching “Any Human Heart” tomorrow night on our local PBS station (New York and Vermont). I don’t have any idea what the story is about but do enjoy the cast of this movie….thank you for your blog on this book.
And no never met Mr. Macfayden……….