Brazzaville Beach, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


'I live on Brazzaville Beach ... I am here because two sets of strange and extraordinary events happened to me ...

One in England, first, and then one in Africa.'On Brazzaville Beach, on the edge of Africa, Hope Clearwater examines the complex circumstances that brought her there.

Sifting the details for evidence of her own innocence or guilt, she tells her engrossing story with a blunt and beguiling honesty that not only intrigues and disturbs but is also completely enthralling.


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From what I can tell from the three novels I've now read by Boyd, he is consistently solid. None of them would qualify for my book of the year but they are all very readable and interesting. As Boyd likes to work in different genres, this is more of an achievement than it sounds. Hope Clearwater looks back from her beach hut on the two main espisodes of her adult life. The end of her marriage to a genius mathemetician who goes slowly mad and her work observing chimpanzees. The two stories are told in parallel and are clearly meant to be linked in some way (other than through the protaganist) but I couldn't spot it myself. However, this had no bearing on my enjoyment of the narratives. The marriage strand is naturally the more introspective of the two. There are some interesting observations on the higher echelons of mathematics, on the dynamics of a marriage in which one party will always play second fiddle to the other's vocations and on madness brought on by the elusiveness of one's goals. The chimpanzee strand was even more interesting. The band that Hope is asked with observing has split off from a larger group for the north. The northerners start a war against the southerners. But this is not standard chimp behaviour and it goes against all the academic theory of her boss, who becomes desperate to supress Hope's findings. There's a lot of action, twists and turns stuffed into this book and towards the end it does strain credulity a little. But overall another fine story by Boyd.

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