Sweet Caress by William Boyd

William Boyd has done it again – written a captivating novel about a fascinating female photographer whose work covers some of the major events of 20th century history. Amory Clay photographs the sex clubs of Berlin in the 1920s, the Blackshirt riots in London in the 1930s and becomes one of the first women war photographers during World War 2 and later the Vietnam War. At the same time Amory establishes a passionate life for herself and her work unencumbered by social mores and testing out some deep relationships with men. Boyd has an uncanny ability to express the female voice. The book is peppered with examples of “her” work leaving the reader convinced of their authenticity. Boyd doesn’t enlighten us about their provenance but sadly we have to accept that Amory is a pastiche of the great female journalists and photographers of the 20th century such as Lee Miller, Martha Gellhorn, Gerda Taro, Diane Arbus, Margaret Michaelis ‘and all the others’.