Vienna, 1913. Lysander Rief, a young English actor, sits in the waiting room of the city's preeminent psychiatrist as he anxiously ponders the particularly intimate nature of his neurosis. When the enigmatic, intensely beautiful Hettie Bull walks in, Lysander is immediately drawn to her, unaware of how destructive the consequences of their subsequent affair will be. One year later, home in London, Lysander finds himself entangled in the dangerous web of wartime intelligence - a world of sex, scandal and spies that is slowly, steadily, permeating every corner of his life.
William Boyd is the thor of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Mgham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet and adapted into a Channel 4 drama; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and a Richard and Judy selection, and most recently, the bestselling Ordinary Thunderstorms.