Books: Drinker, Writer, Lover, Spy

A tragic, funny novel in the form of one man's diary

There is a secret, shameful part of every American that longs to attend a small, quaint, exclusive boarding school in the English countryside. The crack of the cricket bat, the furtive cigarettes, the obligatory corporal punishment--like buried memories from our Colonial past, they arouse atavistic, Anglophilic urges. Some people get their Brit fix from Harry Potter. They will get that, and much more, from William Boyd's brilliant, beautiful and exceptionally British Any Human Heart (Knopf; 498 pages).

Boyd was born in Ghana and lives in France, but he is a comic novelist in the best English tradition of Waugh and Amis...

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