Trio by William Boyd
A Producer. A Novelist. An Actress.
Right from the moment you pick up this book it draws you in. The cover evokes the ‘swinging sixties’ that it is set in, black and white, cigarettes and furtive glances.
It is summer 1968 and there is a lot of political stuff happening around the world – Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are assassinated, and Paris is the scene of riots. Our characters, however, are seemingly unaffected by these world events as they are involved in the production of a movie in Brighton, England.
All three characters are interlinked, but sometimes only fleetingly with each other.
Elfrida is a writer. She has enjoyed success previously in her writing career, even earning the accolade of the ‘new Virginia Woolf’. It’s not something she takes great delight in, and lately has been suffering from writers block. She is able to come up with numerous book titles but can’t seem to be able to bring herself to actually write. Elfrida is also a closet alcoholic. Her husband Reggie is the connection with the movie. He is the director. He seems to be unaware of her drinking problem.
Talbot Kiddis is the movie’s Producer. He is quite adept at handling the production side of the movie, but he sneaks off to his secret apartment regularly and leads another life. It’s never quite clear what he’s up to, but it involves photography and a darkened house.
The third character in the trio is leading lady Anny Viklund. She is a glamorous young American actress who is having an affair on the side with her leading man. Anny also has a boyfriend in France, and an ex-husband who turns up wanting money from her. The ex -husband has a dark past and suddenly Anny finds herself being questioned by the CIA.
There are dramas on and off the film set. All of the characters are leading secret lives in one way or another, and this makes for a lot of twists and turns in the plot. The novel is also cleverly divided into three sections: Duplicity, Surrender and Escape.
I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. This is a great read. It’s pacey, styley and unputdownable. Having never read any of William Boyd before, I am now going to seek him out.
Reviewer: Rachel White
Penguin Random House $37.00