A big disappointment
I stuck with this for 320 pages (of a total of 428) before waving the white flag, and reading the rest of the plot on Wikipedia. I read my first [a:William Boyd|8170|William Boyd|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1266355107p2/8170.jpg] novel, [b:Brazzaville Beach|77829|Brazzaville Beach|William Boyd|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347354508s/77829.jpg|366635], in the 1990s, having been reliably informed that it was wonderful. It wasn't. It was competent and perfectly fine but not the masterpiece I was expecting. I was inspired to read "[b:Waiting for Sunrise|12345981|Waiting for Sunrise|William Boyd|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328723650s/12345981.jpg|17325348]" as, once again, I'd read a plethora of positive reviews, and because the story is set in an era that I find fascinating.
The plot is long and meandering, switching locations, as often as the book switches genres. The story moves from Vienna, to Sussex, to London, to Geneva and back to London - whilst the plot jumps from psychoanalysis, to tortured relationships, family dramas, trench warfare and spying. It would all have made more sense if the book just focussed on one theme. There are sections of the book that I enjoyed: the opening section, set in Vienna, felt well researched if a little improbable. Unfortunately Boyd's writing is pedestrian with far too many tedious descriptions of rooms and personal appearance.
I am baffled by the praise heaped on this book. It is profoundly average with odd moments of interest and excitement. For anyone interested in reading a superb book on spying during World War One, then look no further than [a:W. Somerset Maugham|4176632|W. Somerset Maugham|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1281475888p2/4176632.jpg]'s wonderful "[b:Ashenden|887797|Ashenden|W. Somerset Maugham|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320419387s/887797.jpg|552471]". A book based on first hand experience and far more thoughtful, insightful and credible than "Waiting For Sunrise".