Ten Days to Destiny: The Secret Story of the Hess Peace Initiative and British Efforts to Strike a Deal with Hitler

William Boyd, Author, John Costello, Author William Morrow & Company $21 (600p) ISBN 978-0-688-10363-7
Though Boyd made his reputation with novels of larky humor, his new work is a literate tale of romantic suspense that eschews comic relief and holds the reader's attention with effective foreshadowing. Like his last novel, The New Confessions , this highly readable tale is primarily a first-person narrative. Here Boyd's storyteller is Hope Clearwater, who has fled marital difficulties back in England to study chimpanzees in Africa. Through her eyes the reader is introduced to a bevy of English and American eccentrics, some benign, others malevolent in their effects on one another and on the chimpanzees. As a nonexpert, Hope observes the chimpanzees from an unusual perspective (which mirrors her refreshing and deeply felt attempts to understand her idiosyncratic estranged husband, a mathematician), and her discovery of warring factions among the supposedly peace-loving chimps roils academic and emotional waters for everyone. The novel, contradictorily, is both rambling and tightly woven, with Boyd inserting insightful, third-person commentary on the characters' inner lives. As befits a protagonist telling her own story, Hope often doesn't know where she's going until she gets there, but Boyd's skill in developing her character overrides some slight confusion about the more picaresque aspects of her adventure. Boyd should widen his audience with this adroitly written, accessible tale. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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