It is surprising, one may think even suspicious, how easily William Boyd changes his narrative style.
“Any human heart” is a travel guide. It takes the reader through the whole of the 20th century touching mainly on British historical events
The main character, Logan Mountstuart, is lightweight. That is not actually derogatory, it is that lightness that allows him to blend into all kinds of jobs and situations. He is a below average student at Oxford, a talented writer who does not have the will to pursue writing as a profession. He even becomes, almost by chance, a spy during WWII only to be captured and spend most of the war in prison. That is the turning point of the book, Logan’s life changes completely because of the war and starts wandering about the world: NY, Africa, back to England and finally southern France.
This is a truly British book. It is about a country changing rapidly in a few decades. The main character goes from being a typical middle class would-be gentleman to becoming a sort of celebrity in New York and then ending his days as a slightly eccentric English man in France.
Boyd’s storytelling is fluid, very entertaining. Logan becomes a travelling companion rather than the protagonist. As we read the passing of his whole life we are left with the impression that we have lost a friend.