Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Any Human Heart (2002)

I can't make the claim that this is necessarily one of the great books of modern times, and I won't, but I will say that, having just finished this, it will probably wind up on my own personal top ten books of all time. This was just one of those novels that seemed almost written for me and me alone (is that how everyone feels about their favorite books?); essentially, it hit a lot of my own personal preoccupations. The novel is in the form of a series of diaries, kept by the fictional Logan Mountstuart, a mildly successful writer who careens through the twentieth century. He spends time in Paris in the 1920s, works under Ian Fleming during the war years, runs an art gallery in New York City in the 1950s, and along the way, meets all sorts of famous (plus fictional) characters. It's ultimately a fairly tragic novel about a full life that could have been fuller. It also perfectly expresses my personal philosophy of life: that it boils down to the luck you get, the good luck, and the bad luck. Not a popular philosophy, I know, but us agnostics/atheists have to believe in something.

I read this because I had just caught the televised miniseries on Masterpiece Theater that aired last month. It was well-done, and captured a lot of the book, but somewhat paled compared to the written version. Pictured below, the lovely Matthew MacFayden and the equally lovely Hayley Atwell as Logan and Freya in the filmed version.

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