William Boyd’s RESTLESS

US Cover advertising the movie version

RESTLESS by William Boyd is one of those novels with a parallel plot.

There is the present-day told from the point-of-view of Ruth Gilmartin a 20-something PhD student at Oxford and a single Mum.

Then there is the story of Eva Delectorskaya, a woman of Russian-English heritage, working as a spy for Britain in New York in 1940 and 1941. Her job was to pose as a journalist spreading disinformation about the progress of the war in an effort to encourage the United States to join the fight against the Nazis.

UK cover featuring the Costa Award which RESTLESS won in 2006

This may sound only moderately interesting, but in William Boyd’s hands it becomes completely gripping. Both POV characters, Ruth and Eva, are so real.

Movie version (2012) with Hayley Atwelll playing the young Eva and Rufus Sewell playing her handler Lucas Romer

While it is true that inevitably Ruth’s story is less interesting than Eva’s, nevertheless, it kept me glued to the page, partly because I’m old enough to remember the Baader-Meinhof gang, and I kept wondering if she were harboring some of the members in her apartment.

As for Eva, well she is completely compelling. Strikingly beautiful and breathtakingly smart she is astonishingly good at her job, and manages to wriggle out of a couple of very difficult situations. Most of the pleasure of this novel is in watching such a smart woman outsmart some pretty smart men.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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