William Boyd is one of of Britain’s most popular and successful novelists. He is also one of our most versatile. You never know quite what to expect when you read a Boyd novel. The hero or heroine might be male or female, it can take place in any location in any epoch.
His latest – Love is Blind – one might describe as Victorian novel in time, form and content.
The hero is Brodie Moncur, a piano-tuner son of a monster Scottish lowland priest. The nevel is set in Victorian/ Edwardian times
He flies the coop to work for a firm of piano manufacturers in Edinburgh who transfer him to Paris. There he meets the love of his life a Russian soprano called Lika who is the partner of the Irish Liszt famous pianist John who has a sinister brother Malachi.
When John learns of the affaire via Malachi, he challenges Brodie to a duel. I won’t say more but Brodie, suffering from tuberculosis, is obliged to move south to Nice, then Biarritz and finishes up in the Andoman Islands.
It’s an amusing read but Boyd, whilst a writer of many talents, can’t always include story-telling amongst them as the novel rather peters out.
Boyd does seem obsessed with prostitution and male facial hair: most descriptions of the character start with their facial moustache, or Bernard.
Despite the unsatisfying ending , the novel does have narrational tension and I would classify it as a “ good read”