Trio by William Boyd

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Trio by William Boyd

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It's 1968, the year when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. It's also the year when YSK Films are making a movie in Brighton. Brilliantly told and very readable. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: October 2020
Publisher: Viking
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0241295953

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It was 1968: the year when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. It's also the year when YSK Films are making a movie in Brighton. It's called Emily Bracegirdle's Extremely Useful Ladder to the Moon, or Ladder the Moon as it's known on set. Anny Viklund is the female star in a production which is proving to be just a little bit rackety. There are odd pressures on the producer, Talbot Kydd, to employ this old actor friend for a couple of days because he needs the money, allow a fading star to use his catchphrase, or include a song from the leading man, whose musical star is fading.

Anny and Troy are having an affair, as are their characters, Emily and Ben, in the film. In either case, no one must know. Anny's boyfriend, French philosopher Jacques Soldat, could turn up on the set at any time and Ben is Emily's driver, so the relationship would be frowned upon: this is the sixties, after all. Reggie Tipton - well he prefers to be called Rodrigo Tipton - is the director and one of the perks of the job is that he gets a rather splendid house for the duration of the filming and installed there is his wife, novelist Elfrida Wing. Well, I call her a 'novelist' but the days when she was known as the new Virginia Woolf have passed by in a cloud of alcohol fumes and she thinks that no one knows what's in those bottles of Sarson's white vinegar. She can't make up her mind whether she's a 'sipper' or a 'bender' as far as her vodka consumption goes but she's rarely far removed from her last glass. She does know that she doesn't trust Reggie: he has form.

Anny Viklund has another problem. Well, it shouldn't be a problem, really, as Cornell Weekes is, as she keeps stating, her ex-husband, but he's just escaped custody and the FBI are sure that she knows something about his whereabouts. She does, actually, but it's not sympathy with his views which persuades her to give him some money but an attempt to simplify her life: trying to keep a professional face on a boyfriend, an affair and an ex-husband who's a terrorist is getting a bit much.

Talbot Kydd has a secret too. He might have a wife and two adult children but he's been keeping his sexual proclivities well hidden since his adolescence. He's got a flat his wife knows nothing about and that's where he takes his photographs. Then there's the fact that his partner, Yorgos Samsa, is trying to defraud him. Anny, Elfrida and Talbot have built their lives around keeping their true lives secret but there comes a point when a decision has to be made about what makes life worth living - and what you do about it.

For years my husband has been trying to persuade me to read William Boyd but somehow the opportunity has never arisen until this week when Trio landed on my desk. Now I know what I've been missing. The writing is exquisite: Boyd is a writer who has the ability to make what he's doing look simple and uncontrived to the extent that you realise the skill and talent which has gone into the book. It is crafted, with not a wasted word and the plot is brilliant.

The characterisation is excellent too. I've just been looking back at my notes and there's a substantial cast of characters all of which have stayed in my mind as individuals and the beauty of it is that it took just a few words to bring each one off the page. I rooted for all the main characters - and cried for one of them. It was a book which I read all too quickly.

I'd like to thank the publishers for making a review copy available to the Bookbag.

Solo, the James Bond novel is set the year after Trio.

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