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Review: Sweet Caress by William Boyd

BY James Walton

1st Jan 2015 Book Reviews

Review: Sweet Caress by William Boyd

Like his much-loved novel Any Human Heart, William Boyd’s new book follows the life of an artistic main character from birth to death. In this case, though, that character is female. James Walton reviews Sweet Caress.

Sweet Caress by William Boyd


The plot

Born in 1908, Amory Clay takes up photography under the guidance of her glamorous uncle Greville.

For a while works with him taking portraits of society figures. But she soon yearns for more exciting subject matter—and, often to her alarm, she definitely finds it: as a press photographer in the East End during Blackshirt marches, in France after D-Day and, later, in Vietnam.  


The review

As ever, Boyd is terrific at capturing time and place, and at blurring the line between fact and fiction, here with the aid of a selection of “Amory’s” photographs scattered throughout the book. 

And yet, while never remotely dull, Sweet Caress feels workmanlike rather than inspired, as if Boyd is relying rather too heavily on techniques (highly polished techniques, admittedly) that have served him well for many years.