Vienna, 1913. Lysander Rief, a young English actor in town seeking psychotherapy for a troubling ailment of a sexual nature, becomes caught up in a feverish affair with a beautiful, enigmatic woman. When she goes to the police to press charges of rape, however, he is stunned, and his few months of passion come to an abrupt end. Only a carefully plotted escape--with the help of two mysterious British diplomats--saves him from trial.
But the frenzied getaway sets off a chain of events that steadily dismantles Lysander's life as he knows it. He returns to a London on the cusp of war, hoping to win back his onetime fiancEe and banish from memory his traumatic ordeals abroad, but Vienna haunts him at every turn. The men who helped coordinate his escape recruit him to carry out the brutal murder of a complete stranger. His lover from Vienna shows up nonchalantly at a party, ready to resume their liaison. Unable to live an ordinary existence, he is plunged into the dangerous theater of wartime intelligence--a world of sex, scandal, and spies, where lines of truth and deception blur with every waking day. Lysander must now discover the key to a secret code that is threatening Britain's safety, and use all his skills to keep this murky world of suspicion and betrayal from invading every corner of his life.
Moving from Vienna to London's West End, from the battlefields of France to hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a mesmerizing journey into the human psyche, a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe, a plot-twisting thriller, and a literary tour de force.
Boyd talking about the book
Boyd talking about "parallelism", a version of psychotherapy he invented for the book.
"This is the first novel I've ever read by William Boyd, and having read this one, I'm a little ashamed at myself. How have I missed this amazing writer? I've heard a lot of praise for his writing, and now I get it.
In Waiting For Sunrise, William Boyd takes the reader to pre-World War One Vienna. Birthplace of both psychoanalysis and the Hapsburg Empire that started the first world war, Vienna is a fascinating place even now, but then, it was a city struggling with the modern world even as it held on to its traditional ways. In this city, we meet Englishman Lysander Rief, abroad to sort out his life before he marries back in England. While in his analyst's office, he meets an intriguing woman with whom he falls into an affair. His sojourn in Vienna ends when he is accused of a crime he didn't commit, and becomes indebted to the British Embassy for his
Lysander returns to England, and resumes his career as an actor. But as Europe blossoms into war, the British government calls on Lysander to help repay his debt by spying for them. What follows is an international tour-de-force of such intensity and twists and turns that kept me guessing right until the end.
William Boyd's writing is excellent, and his descriptions of life during wartime are fascinating and horrible at once. Boyd describes early espionage as if he had been there, and same goes for the scenes of wartime carnage. As I said, the book kept me guessing... who was the traitor? How do these characters all relate together? And it is all brought together in a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Lysander Rief uses the skills he gleaned as an actor to good effect in the world of international espionage. William Boyd uses his skills as a writer to bring this world, these characters, to life. This is a novel not to be missed."