Love Is Blind

Love Is Blind by William Boyd review – alchemy of fact and fiction
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Its subtitle, The Rapture of Brodie Moncur, hints at some of the complexities therein. One sympathises with the likable Brodie, but this is also not so very far from the topsy-turvy logic of Alice in Wonderland. If the authorial technique apparent in Love Is Blind occasionally verges on cleverness for its own sake, there are numerous compensations. If this makes the novel sound off-puttingly cerebral, it should also be said that is hugely readable, entirely engaging and frequently funny; it can be enjoyed on its own terms as a great yarn.

After a dip in which he produced some well-written, commercially successful but slightly anonymous thrillers, Boyd is back on a form few of his contemporaries can match. As a writer, he's always had a reverence for Chekhov, an account of whose final unwritten play about a man who "either loves a woman who does not love him or is unfaithful to him" forms an epigraph to this novel, but he seems to misunderstand that famous rule about a gun.

He remembers that it must be fired at some point, but not the playwright's true purpose, which was about removing all superfluous clutter from the narrative. This novel doesn't do that, which slows it down enormously, to the point where, ultimately, it becomes dispensable. While a slight dip in fiction sales has been reported by the UK Publishing Association, non-fiction sales have grown by 24pc since Sophie White There's been a glut of fat books landing on my doormat of late.

Cynics could accuse publishers of taking up fat books to cash in on the fat buck, and it does feel slightly iffy that an industry, that Photo: Getty Image. September 16 AM. Listen up! Irish restaurant named best seafood restaurant in the world for the fourth Summer film guide From blockbusters to indie flicks and the best of the festivals Summer music guide Intimate gigs, arena concerts, and the best of the Also in Entertainment.

Three-year-old James McBride from Derry The Blizzards have released a trailer for Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 14, Paromjit rated it really liked it Shelves: historical-fiction , netgalley , literary-fiction , romance. This has all the inimitable style and qualities of an epic character driven William Boyd novel, of love, passion, obsession and music within a historical period presaging the great changes in the world at the end of the nineteenth century. This is a beautifully written and structured story of the life of the young Scottish Brodie Moncur, afflicted with health issues, employed at the Channon Piano Company in Edinburgh, when he is offered the opportunity to work in their Paris outlet which he ferv This has all the inimitable style and qualities of an epic character driven William Boyd novel, of love, passion, obsession and music within a historical period presaging the great changes in the world at the end of the nineteenth century.

This is a beautifully written and structured story of the life of the young Scottish Brodie Moncur, afflicted with health issues, employed at the Channon Piano Company in Edinburgh, when he is offered the opportunity to work in their Paris outlet which he fervently grasps with both hands.

It means that he can escape the clutches of his unbearably grotesque, hypocrital and bullying preacher father, Malky. The source of the rancour that Malky directs towards his son is not made clear. This is a tale that features numerous locations including Europe, Russia and the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, taking in music, love, betrayal, revenge, and secrets with its wide cast of characters. Brodie is a gifted piano tuner, and Boyd goes into some depth to give us detailed insights of all that this involves. The ambitious and energetic Brodie is inspired to move the business in innovative and risky new directions, despite obstacles, in his efforts to increase sales when he brings in the talented pianist, John Kilbarron, 'The Irish Liszt'.

Kilbarron's amour is the beautifully arresting Russian opera singer, Lika Blum, a woman Brodie falls for hook, line and sinker, a passion that will have devastating repercussions on his future. Malachi, Kilbarron's brother and business manager is a particularly brutal and malign presence. Boyd delineates Brodie's relationship through the years, his travels, the dangers, a man that gambles with his own system. Boyd presents us with a chaotic and challenging life conjured by the blindness of love in all its aspects and how it shapes up to be infinitely testing of the human heart.

This is a fabulously immersive read, set in turbulent times for the world, a turbulence that is mirrored in the gripping and compelling Brodie's life with the enigmatic Lika.

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A particular highlight for me was Boyd's skill in making the era come alive with his rich vibrant descriptions. An emotionally affecting and memorable book. Highly recommended. View all 9 comments. Sep 09, Andrew Smith rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley. William Boyd writes books you can get lost in. In Any Human Heart and The New Confessions so rich is his mix of fact and fiction that he almost convinced me he was writing about the life of a real people.

He wasn't of course, but I became so immersed in the lives of Logan Mountstuart and John James Todd that I really found it hard to accept I was reading a piece if fiction. Here he manages to do it again, this time we are introduced to a piano tuner named Brodie Moncur. He works for the Channon Piano Company at their Edinburgh showroom and we follow him through the ups and down of his working life, track his physical health, meet his large family and travel as far and wide as France, Switzerland, Russia and the little known Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal if you're wondering.

But most of all we get to share his obsession with a Russian opera singer called Lika. It's soon recognised that Brodie possesses an energy and an entrepreneurial spirit that would serve the company well in helping grow its new shop in Paris and he is dispatched forthwith. But before he goes, he returns to the small rural town in which he grew up to visit his family. His father is the local clergyman — and a real Hellfire preacher he is, too — and he demonstrates an unexplained animus towards Brodie. Once in Paris he meets resistance from the shop manager, the son of the company owner, but he manages to push through a number of his ideas which includes the recruitment of a top piano player to publicise their brand.

Boyd brilliantly brings the whole thing to life with his rich descriptions of time and place and razor sharp dialogue. And there are sufficient historical references and instances of casual name dropping to make the whole thing feel real. As the book progresses the tension level fluctuates. It all comes out in the wash though and by the end I was feeling that my investment in wading through the slower sections had paid off. By this point I really did have the feeling that I fully understood Brodie — I was virtually living inside his head — I believed that I was tuned into his line of thought and fully understood his sometimes drastic actions.

I didn't know how was all going to play out but I really wanted some closure, some happiness for Brodie. And did I shed a tear when I reached the end? Yes, I'm afraid I did. Another superb offering form this brilliantly gifted writer, who I've admired for some years. I've now read a dozen or so of his books and I'm blown away by his inventiveness, the diversity of his stories and above all the way in which, in his best work, he invites the reader to become a part of the story — to become, in fact, the lead character and to experience their life as if it were your own.

Love is Blind

Quite a trick that. My sincere thanks to Penguin Books UK and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. View all 24 comments. Nov 10, Esil rated it really liked it. Reading a William Boyd novel ensures a view of history, some travel and a somewhat naive main character trying to make sense of the world.

Love Is Blind is no exception. The novel is set in the late 19th and early 20th century, focusing on Brodie Moncur, a Scottish piano tuner. Brodie comes from a large dysfunctional family near Glasgow, and he is fortunate to be sent off to Paris to work for a Scottish piano manufacturer. There, he meets Lida, a Russian singer, thereafter becoming blinded by lo Reading a William Boyd novel ensures a view of history, some travel and a somewhat naive main character trying to make sense of the world.

There, he meets Lida, a Russian singer, thereafter becoming blinded by love. The story is somewhat of a picaresque, moving to many countries, where Brodie meets various people as he pursues Lida, vying for her competing attentions. I found Love Is Blind hard to put down — entertaining and smartly constructed.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. View all 29 comments. Jul 23, Roman Clodia rated it it was ok. So that was Lydia Blum He felt his sphincter loosen and the bubble of air expand to fill his lungs Brodie felt now as if his innards were molten - as if he might melt in a puddle of sizzling magma on the floor Well, there are ways to write about physical love, lust and desire but this isn't it - for me, at any rate.

Boyd's prose is no more than workmanlike in this book which manages to be both bogged down in detail why do we need to know precisely which brand of cigarettes each character So that was Lydia Blum Boyd's prose is no more than workmanlike in this book which manages to be both bogged down in detail why do we need to know precisely which brand of cigarettes each character smokes? Oh yes, because Boyd researched them and simultaneously skim the surface when it comes to the personal relationships supposedly at the heart of this book.

I never felt, either, that these were people who had grown up in the Victorian period or late nineteenth century - the way they think, speak and act feels utterly contemporary. The musical backdrop is done well but everything else felt overdramatic, almost operatic, but without the fantasy element that opera uses to, paradoxically, make us 'believe': view spoiler [for example, we learn quite early in the book that Brodie has the conventional lung disease that causes the sentimental early deaths of all those operatic women like Mimi and Violetta; while Lika carries a little pistol given to her by her lover so that she can't be ravished by any other admirers hide spoiler ].

To me this feels overly simple and simplistic in writing and imaginative vision. There are lots of female breasts lots and quite a lot of masturbation not explicit all of which render sex as a transaction rather than something more emotional, no matter how many times Brodie swears his undying ha!

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Personally, I found the whole thing rather thin and uninvolving - as an evocation of erotic love, I didn't believe this for a second. View all 21 comments. Apr 18, Algernon Darth Anyan rated it it was amazing Shelves: , favorites. Falling in love is the one illogical adventure, the one thing of which we are tempted to think as supernatural, in our trite and reasonable world. The effect is out of all proportion with the cause.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque A writer at the height of his narrative powers embarks on an incredible journey that takes his hero, Brodie Moncur, across half the world on a quest of self discovery. The exotic places he visits are ultimately irrelevant to the true scope of his life, a s Falling in love is the one illogical adventure, the one thing of which we are tempted to think as supernatural, in our trite and reasonable world. The exotic places he visits are ultimately irrelevant to the true scope of his life, a scope that remains hidden to him for most of the journey.

But we are offered a key right on the first page, in the two quotes chosen by Boyd to frame his novel, from Russian and Victorian novelists. Brodie, a young man born into a 'respectable' household in the Scottish countryside, will escape from Victorian rigid, fake morality to Russian emotional torment.

William Boys sets out to write the unfinished planned novel of Chekhov, to tackle the Big Questions championed by Dostoyevsky, to unravel the eternal mystery of a loving woman like Tolstoy. And, in my opinion, succeeds spectacularly. From to her death twenty-three years later, Brodie had recently calculated, she had given birth to fourteen children, five of them stillborn or dead within days of their parturition.

He wondered what his father thought about this woman, his wife. Was she just some sort of child-factory, a breed-cow? Brodie Moncur, a young man gifted with an extraordinary accurate musical ear, but not enough talent to become a concert pianist, is a resourceful and methodical piano tuner instead. His talents and his innovative ideas may be his ticket out of a mostly boring Edinburgh career, as his boss decides to send him to their company's Paris office.

Everyone had seen a grand piano with the lid up but having the action on display somehow altered every easy assumption.

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The piano no longer seemed familiar. Now all the moving parts were visible beyond the black and white keys — the hammers, the rockers, the jacks, the whippens, the dampers — its innards were exposed like a clock with its back off or a railway engine dismantled in a repair shop. Mysteries — music, time, movement — were reduced to complex, elaborate mechanisms. People tended to be fascinated. Once away from his 'trite and reasonable world', from his mechanical, predictable job, Brodie becomes almost overnight a cosmopolite, at ease in the business and artistic circles his new position opens up for him.

One of his smart ideas is to sell more concert pianos by offering them, and his tuning services, for free to famous pianists, who will in turn endorse the company. But complications arise. Was it the lips or was it the eyes? Or was it some more subtle equation of the face? The distance between eyes equalling distance between nose and top lip. Or the precise setting of the lips between nose and chin How did such fascination occur? One saw a thousand women's faces in a month, say.

Why was your eye — your heart, your loins — enthralled by just one? Lika Blum is a Russian actress and singer, moderately talented. She's also the mistress of John Kilbarron, the first famous pianist to accept Brodie Moncur's sponsoring contract. But the heart moves in mysterious ways. A further complication is the discovery that Brodie is suffering from an incurable disease, the bane of the nineteen century — tuberculosis. Naturally — she's an actress. Oh, yes. In life things go wrong, nothing stays the same and there's nothing you can do about it.

Friends betray you, family is a nightmare, lovers are fickle. This is the norm, no? We're made for complications, we human beings. Anyway, such a perfect world could never exist — at least not on this small planet. But life without Lika isn't really life, and Brodie is still young and impetuous, and more than a little naive. Petersburg in Russia, as their private piano tuner. Stay with these precious moments, he told himself as he stood on the bridge over the Seine as the dusky light thickened.

Store them away in your memory's treasure house. It was entirely possible, he realized, that they may never happen again. The best and the worst moments of his life take place in the northern city and in the countryside at their summer retreat, the violent emotions and bloody confrontations a true reminder of the greatest moments of classic Russian literature.

I will try not to spoil them, but like a musical theme in a symphony, a simple country song that Brodie wrote down for Lika in Paris will haunt their every moment of illicit happiness. Der Tranensee, The Lake of Tears : That song had been the catalyst of all the happiness in his life, he thought.

He thought further: and all his unhappiness, also. The conclusion of the Russian interlude is explosive, to say as little as possible about it, and sends Brodie, now accompanied by Lika, once again all around the map of Europe, in search of drier climates for Brodie's sickness and in search of a hiding place from the consequences of their romance. Something about his new life — his life with Lika — convinced him that he would never return home, never return to Scotland. And then he did feel a moment's sadness: thinking of his brothers and sisters and their circumscribed conditions.

Here he was on a terrace of a cafe in the south of France looking out at the breakers of the Atlantic Ocean. Escape, flight, freedom — that was the only solution. Brodie does return to Scotland, and he sees his family again, but he is not the same man as the one that left. He now carries the Russian fire inside him, and the confrontations are as powerful, as emotional as his time in exile.

But once there, more complications arise, challenging the very core of his existence — Lika. How much time do I have? A year? Two years? A decade, a quarter of a century? It was too depressing to contemplate; it made everything fragile, everything was now no more than a vague possibility — all probability and certainty had gone from his life. But then he reflected further: when had probability and certainty ever played a reliable part in the human condition?

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Again, I'm trying to avoid spoilers, but the past catches up to them, and in their moment of panic, Lika leaves Brodie for another man. Were her declamations of love nothing but a lie? It didn't matter how well you thought you knew someone, he realized. You saw what you wanted to see or you saw what the other person wanted you to see. People were opaque; another person was a mystery. Maybe he was as much a mystery to Lika as she was to him What else is there to do for Brodie?

Alone, with an incurable disease, uncertain about the compass of his life so far, he goes a little crazy, just like one of those crazy Russians in a Dostoyevsky novel. Where is the resourceful, methodical and pragmatic young man from the beginning of the journey? Spin the globe all the way through and you'll see a tiny dot in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

I guess that's as far as Brodie can go to escape from his complications. In the Andaman Islands, Brodie finds some peace and some perspective, as he embarks on an etnographic study of the aboriginal tribes from the islands. He has gone to the end of the world, but what he needs to look at is right there in his heart.

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He goes to leave, then summons his courage. The patient realizes Adams got her, and Melissa admits it. When you are in the midst of deep love, when the world is filled with rainbows and butterflies, everything your partner does is right. I found the scenes between Brodie and his tyrannical, despotic father quite powerful, and also the parts describing how Brodie tuned a piano to please a fin I'm hovering between 2. Maybe he was as much a mystery to Lika as she was to him

It was good to gain some objectivity on a situation that familiarity had made stale. Your life was turned on its head when you thought about it in this way. If the Nicobars seemed strange and their beliefs outlandish, then so were ours, Brodie thought, seen from another perspective.

Objectivity and resignation are fine in theory, but this is a love story after all, and, no matter how hard he tries, Brodie Moncur cannot command the yearnings of his heart. Even as a new woman shows her interest in him, he still thinks of the one who got away. Love is indeed blind, as the title of this extraordinary novel suggests.

He saw a shape, like the map of an unknown island, that turned into Lika's face.

Love is blind, but lust is not; William Boyd’s 15th novel reviewed

Then he saw the skein of geese flying low over the Neva river. He saw the deer at Maloe Nikolskoe look up from its grazing and stare at him. He saw Lika come though the door and walk towards him smiling. View 2 comments.

Love is Blind

In his latest novel, Love Is Blind – his 15th – William Boyd has pulled off an audaciously cunning trick, a literary bait and switch that both. It's a classic example of Boyd getting things off to a propulsive start, and on the surface Love Is Blind has all the hallmarks of a slow-burning.

Oct 01, Chrissie rated it liked it Shelves: scotland , france , audible-uk , read , india , austria , love , hf , russia , medical. Look at the title, it says it all. This is first and foremost a love story, or rather, multiple love stories. Set at the turn of the 19th century, it is a period piece drawing the life of a Scot, Brodie Moncur. Look at the surname; if one is acquainted with French, one sees there a play on words. We follow Brodie from , when he is eighteen, to , in his mid-thirties, and from Edinburgh to Paris to Geneva to Nice to St.