Jonathan Barnes

Familiar Grounds

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth


Viking 248pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

For the successful writer of fiction, there are few more insidious fears than the prospect of running out of material. Even the most indefatigable and prolific of storytellers may be haunted by the possibility that their flow of ideas might one day dry up, leaving them with nothing at all to say that they have not already articulated.

To judge from his latest collection, The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth, this unenviable eventuality has now caught up with William Boyd. The achievements of Boyd, who has been publishing regularly since 1981, are considerable and diverse. They include an arrestingly funny debut (A Good Man in Africa), one of the wisest, most humane and resonant novels of recent times (Any Human Heart) and – no mean feat this – the best James Bond pastiche so far written (2013’s Solo). Underrated by his peers (doubtless in part because of his pronounced and persistent commercial success), Boyd has always been eloquent, his narratives memorably stylish.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,