William Cody grows up surrounded by his father's tales of Buffalo Bill, to whom he is distantly related, and his own fantasies of the Wild West. Though he escapes his heritage by fleeing abroad and starting a new life for himself, he finds that he is always drawn back to England and to his ancestry.
When his father proposes that together they should recreate Buffalo Bill's stage show, 'The Congress of Rough Riders of the World' for a contemporary audience, William refuses to have any part in it. When tragedy strikes however, it is to his father that he eventually returns.
About the Author
John Boyne was born in Dublin in 1971 and is currently events manager at Waterstone's Dublin. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of East Anglia, where he completed the course in creative writing. At UEA he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize (shared with Toby Litt).
His first short story was published in The Sunday Tribune and was subsequently shortlisted for a Hennessy Literary Award. The Thief of Time is his first novel.
This is a confident and highly entertaining novel with an absorbing dual narrative. Focusing on Buffalo Bill in 1800s America and Bill's great-grandson, William, Boyne draws parallels between the two men whilst exploring the nature of family and individualism. All his life William has been told stories of Bill's swashbuckling escapades in the Wild West; Boyne's evocation of the frontier is vibrant and detailed, complete with stirring accounts of life on the Pony Express and the Civil War massacres. Interwoven with these tall tales is the story of William himself, whose life is more complex and poignant as he struggles with his weighty ancestry, becomes alienated from his father and seeks happiness with a Japanese wife, Hitomi. Boyne introduces further tension by telling us that William's wife will be murdered, an uncomfortable foreknowledge that makes his story even more affecting. Each strand could stand as a novel in its own right, but Boyne links them skilfully through the strength of his characterization. As a globe-trotting journalist, William is the 21st-century equivalent of his trail-blazing great-grandfather. Both men are intrepid but each is a product of his time: Bill's world is a simpler one, governed by codes of honour and masculine pride, while William struggles to escape from his family past and forge a clear identity of his own. The novel maintains a rattling momentum throughout and the exploits of the two men are as compelling as the parallels between them. Boyne brings new sophistication to the historical fiction genre, combining a gripping plot with a thoughtful exploration of the afterlife of heroes and our relationship with history. Highly recommended. (Kirkus UK)
Number Of Pages: 392
Published: 5th December 2002
Dimensions (cm): 19.700 x 13.000 x 2.500
Weight (kg): 0.314