William Boyd - Ordinary Thunderstorms Reviews

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“Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd ”


written by degbert on 10/05/2010

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Boyd's most recent novel comes on the heels of having received accolades for the exhilarating Restless story, a spy story of some depth and colour, which won the Costa Novel of the Year award. Boyd's other work isn't rubbish either, and some of his finest titles such as Any Human Heart are part of Britain's literary heritage, and indeed gives away a delicious warmth of prose and an almost obsessive affectation with humanity, with the human spirit.

Ordinary Thunderstorms takes the Boyd die-hards in yet another new direction, as it explores the frailty of privilege in modern-day living and dredges through a very gritty backdrop of underworld London. The main character is a victim of bizarre and unfortunate circumstances, which spiral rapidly downhill to the point where he is on the run, penniless, and must disappear while he attempts to unravel the mystery that stops him clearing his name.

Boyd's depiction of a bleak, forgotten and rancid London underclass is rich, vividly depressing, and is the melting pot out of which crawl probably the book's most memorable characters. Kindred's relationship with the prostitute, Mhouse, about which so much of the story revolves, is very strong; astonishingly vibrant and unutterably heartbreaking in equal measure.

The patois used in The Shaft, the language of the immigrant ghetto, is effective and somewhat playful, reminiscent of Iain Banks.

The storyline of a fugitive trying to right some wrongs and find the truth is by no means a new idea, and Boyd himself must have been aware of the potential dangers of the plot looking derived. However, this stands up on its own - his approach is like no other, the characterisations are like no other, and the empathy towards the central characters he manages to conjure makes it another inimitable classic from Boyd. A great story.

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