Love is Blind
by William Boyd
Love is Blind is William Boyd’s sweeping, heart-stopping new novel. Set at the end of the 19th century, it follows the fortunes of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish musician, about to embark on the story of his life.
When Brodie is offered a job in Paris, he seizes the chance to flee Edinburgh and his tyrannical clergyman father, and begin a wildly different new chapter in his life. In Paris, a fateful encounter with a famous pianist irrevocably changes his future – and sparks an obsessive love affair with a beautiful Russian soprano, Lika Blum. Moving from Paris to St Petersburg to Edinburgh and back again, Brodie’s love for Lika and its dangerous consequences pursue him around Europe and beyond, during an era of overwhelming change as the nineteenth century becomes the twentieth.
Love is Blind is a tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away. At once an intimate portrait of one man’s life and an expansive exploration of the beginning of the twentieth century, Love is Blind is a masterly new novel from one of Britain’s best loved storytellers.
I was kindly given an e-ARC of the book by the publishers and NetGalley in return for an honest review.
September is not shaping up to be brilliant in terms of my choices of reading. The general plot given in the synopsis promised quite a punch, plus the praise for the author’s works in general made me an expectant reader. That proved to be disastrous.
As soon as I started reading this book, I was immediately happy to note that the writing is really, really good and so did the historical research that the author did. Set at the end of the 19th century, Brodie takes across Europe from Scotland to Russia, to France with vivid details. Brodie Moncur is a piano tuner in Edinburgh in 1890s and when given a chance to move away from his home, his country to Paris, he grabs it with both hands because his life at home wasn’t enough for him at the time.
There he meets with a talented pianist, John Kilbarron and he is spotted by Kilbarron for his talent not only as a tuner but also as someone who really knows the piano. The way Boyd gives us the imagery when it comes to Brodie talent is absolutely lovely. Truly. It made me want to learn more about piano in general and that is also how Brodie gets to bring a representative like Kilbarron to the company. As Brodie and Kilbarron start traveling, Brodie finds himself fascinated and later in love with Lika Brum.
Now, here things start to get dicey for me. Lika is shown to be this absolutely enticing and intriguing beauty whose only purpose in the book seems to be create chaos out of people’s lives. I never really understood her or found out more about her personality. I need to know the characters and how they work and why they act the way they do, and while I am not so demanding as to want every little detail. I have to say that I wasn’t given much at all.
Other characters in the book were also given much historical detail but not enough personality for me truly find this an engaging story. There’s a rather alarming number of times the female breasts are written about, and masturbation. Oh, boy. I mean, who keeps a record of the number of times one has had sex and the number of times one has had to masturbate? I hope I never know the answer. I hesitate to call the relationship of Brodie and Lika romantic, I really didn’t find much romance in it if I am being honest.
For a book with so much potential, it never reached the summit that was promised, or rather that was hinted at. I am truly disappointed in that, overall, a rather thin and not quite engaging book unfortunately. I wish there was more because the writing does hint at the potential but with such problems as lack of character personalities and unnecessary additions near the end of the novel, it all made for a muddy read. Fans of historical fiction might find it interesting because of the research that went into it.
This book releases on September, 20, 2018 and it will be available in bookstores and online stores.