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Love is Blind

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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 h 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.


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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 h 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.

30 review for Love is Blind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    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. 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. Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    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. I’d lived the life of these characters and at the end of both books I experienced a tearful moment when I reached the final 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. I’d lived the life of these characters and at the end of both books I experienced a tearful moment when I reached the final page. Here he manages to do it again, this time we are introduced to a piano tuner named Brodie Moncur. We’re close to the end of the 19th century and Brodie is 24 years old. 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. I’ll warn you in advance, it’s an emotional journey. 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. After a testing couple of days spent with his large family he’s glad to make his escape. 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. It will cost money and it's a bit of a gamble, but Brodie is convinced it’ll bring significant dividends. It's at this point that John Kilbarron (the ‘Irish Listz’) enters the picture… together with his lover, Lika. Boyd brilliantly brings the whole thing to life with his rich descriptions of time and place and razor sharp dialogue. Each character is vividly described – none more so than Kilbarron’s sinister brother, Malachi - and even the minor figures seem to be original and interesting. 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. There is one brilliant set piece I won't go into, but it’s so well done I sure my eyes were bulging out of my head as I read it. If you get to read this book you’ll know this event when you reach it. But if I have a bone to pick it’s that the dance between Brodie and the Kilbarron brothers does seem to go on a little too long and, in fact, there are a few sections that did feel unnecessarily protracted. 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. 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    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. 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 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. Brodie’s poor eyesight is a pretty stark metaphor for his lack of insight — as is the title. Yet, it’s hard not to like him and root for him. 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    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 1888, when he is eighteen, to 1906, in his mid-thirties, and from Edinburgh to Paris to Geneva to Nice to St. Petersburg to Biarritz to Vienna to Graz to Trieste to finally the Nic 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 1888, when he is eighteen, to 1906, in his mid-thirties, and from Edinburgh to Paris to Geneva to Nice to St. Petersburg to Biarritz to Vienna to Graz to Trieste to finally the Nicobar and Andaman Islands. Traveling from place to place we see the world he sees, and this is enjoyable. The descriptions are delightful, accurate both in their detail and in their relaying of historical events of the time. The world of music and food and liquor and sex fill the pages. Brodie is a piano tuner gifted with absolute pitch. He has fallen rapturously in love with Lika Blum, a Russian soprano. It is just that there are numerous impediments to their love. We meet John Kilbarron, the so-called Irish Liszt, as well as his brother. One flips between sensual love scenes and suspense. One discovers what a “Lika kiss” is! There is a duel and one is battling consumption, a horrifyingly frightening disease. The plot plods on toward the conclusion, but one is curious to discover how it will end. The ending is appropriate and the writing elegant. Along the way there are twists and turns and explanations that add credibility. For example, it made perfect sense to me that Brodie came to be (view spoiler)[framed for embezzlement and then subsequently fired from the Channon Piano firm, despite the fact that clearly he was innocent! Many a father might accuse another to save their own son’s reputation (hide spoiler)] . I listened to the audiobook narrated by Roy McMillan. At the beginning, I found it to be overdramatized. Also, the Scottish accent gave me trouble. The volume varied from too low one minute to too high the next. As one continues these problems disappear. French, German and Italian are all well performed. The more I was caught up in the story, the more I enjoyed the narration. The narration I have given four stars. ******** Books by William Boyd : Any Human Heart 4 tars Brazzaville 4 stars The Blue Afternoon 3 stars Sweet Caress 3 stars Love is Blind 3 stars Restless 2 stars Waiting for Sunrise 1 star Check out The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason. If Love is Blind draws your interest, this will too.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    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... 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 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!) love to Lika: 'Brodie kept a running calculation: from September 1898 to May 1899 - no sexual congress with Lika... masturbation was only the briefest consolation.' On the plus side, there's quite a lot of story here as the tale sweeps from Edinburgh to Paris to St Petersburg and then swoops off to the Andaman Islands. Personally, I found the whole thing rather thin and uninvolving - as an evocation of erotic love, I didn't believe this for a second. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Despite Alexander Larman’s (Guardian) health check assuring us of Boyd’s ‘rapturous return to form’ thus persuading me to read my first Boyd novel in a couple of decades or so I found a little too much hat tipping with nods to Chekhov, Joyce (Shem & Stan [Jim/Stan : Shem/Shaun]) in Trieste, Margaret Mead’s anthropological studies (I wonder if I have this right? Mead’s studies were 20 years later) and as like as not much that I have missed; along with various Scottish myths (Bobby, a Skye ter Despite Alexander Larman’s (Guardian) health check assuring us of Boyd’s ‘rapturous return to form’ thus persuading me to read my first Boyd novel in a couple of decades or so I found a little too much hat tipping with nods to Chekhov, Joyce (Shem & Stan [Jim/Stan : Shem/Shaun]) in Trieste, Margaret Mead’s anthropological studies (I wonder if I have this right? Mead’s studies were 20 years later) and as like as not much that I have missed; along with various Scottish myths (Bobby, a Skye terrier becomes César, a Jack Russell) it all adds....humour? True: I always wanted to turn the page, but also true that some of the plot devices were clearly signaled very early on, however others came as a surprise. Several commentators below and in the papers have picked up on the excellent scenes between Moncur and his father, they have real drive and emotion - the other father son relationship, also dysfunctional, is between his boss Ainsley Channon and his son Calder - a theme for development perhaps?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    "'You could say,’ Vere mused, ‘that, looking at it from one angle, you’re having an amazing Russian literary experience.’" In the TLS's recent Booker 50th anniversary edition, various past winners were asked about underrated authors that should have featured more in the prize's reckoning. Thomas Keneally suggested: "William Boyd is a consistently pleasing and illuminating writer. He made it onto the Booker shortlist once with An Ice-Cream War, and – to be honest – should have won it." (https://the "'You could say,’ Vere mused, ‘that, looking at it from one angle, you’re having an amazing Russian literary experience.’" In the TLS's recent Booker 50th anniversary edition, various past winners were asked about underrated authors that should have featured more in the prize's reckoning. Thomas Keneally suggested: "William Boyd is a consistently pleasing and illuminating writer. He made it onto the Booker shortlist once with An Ice-Cream War, and – to be honest – should have won it." (https://the-tls.co.uk/articles/public...) This commendation drew me to Boyd's new novel, Love is Blind, but I would be very surprised if it caused this year's panel to tary long in their deliberations. It's a straightforward (overly so) historical romance, set around the turn of the 19th Century around Europe, particularly in Scotland, Russia, Paris and the French coast (Nice, Biarritz). In the late 1890s, Brodie Moncur is an expert piano tuner, working for a Edinburgh based piano manufacturer, and when the chance arises for him to move to Paris to try to reinvigorate their showroom there he grasps it with both hands. There he meets and forms a business venture with John Kilbarron–“The Irish Liszt” - a brilliant pianist but with fading powers, but their professional relationship is soured as Brodie falls in love with Kilbarron's muse, the soprano Lika Brum. As the novel progresses, Moncur travels across Europe, finding work wherever he goes, following Lika, and pursued in turn by Kilbarron's vengeful brother and business manager, Malachi. "Not for the first time he gave thanks to the universal nature of his profession. Wherever there were pianos he could find work, one way or another." Boyd's descriptive prose is his strong point, conjuring up the sights and sounds of the places and time: "The dog cart clip-clopped through the village and led them past the church, St Mungo’s, still looking new – pure Gothic Revival with flying buttresses, finials wherever a finial could be placed and a tall bell tower with no steeple. Its rowan- and yew-dotted cemetery was crowded with ancient graves, former parishioners, the late, good folk of the Liethen Valley. Then they turned into the gravelled carriage drive of the manse, set in a wide dark garden filled with ornamental conifers – monkey puzzles, larches and cedars – and beech trees. Beeches grew well in the Liethen Valley soil." And he - via Lika's observation - particularly effectively compares the Scottish highlands to the Russian steppe: "I feel I could be travelling through a Russian village, so isolated, you know? The mood , the landscape. These small , low houses. The poverty. It’s different, of course, but somehow it makes me feel back home." But Boyd is rather less successful conveying the historical background to the era, which is simply dropped in as lists of background events whenever Brodie picks up a newspaper: "He read about the continuing animosities of the Dreyfus Affair, the celebrations being organized around Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the economic tribulations facing President McKinley , and a review of a shocking new novel called Dracula." And the plot itself, while a reasonable page turner, was a little overwrought and contrived for my literary taste. A couple of particular bugbears for me in the book - although in each case one hopes the author was aware even if the characters aren't. First, at one key point, Brodie's tyrannical father, Malky Moncur, a famously impassioned, if rather hypocritical, preacher, bases a sermon on an Apocryphal text to indirectly condemn his son: but the verses quoted bear no resemblance to any version of Baruch 6 I have seen (did Malky simply invent them? or Boyd?) "Regulars turned the pages of their Bibles looking for the verses that Malky had chosen as his text for his sermon. It was, Brodie saw, very obscure, even for Malky. From the Apocrypha, the Book of Baruch, chapter six , verses ten to twelve. He could see people vainly flicking through their Bibles, searching for it. ... ‘Now, whereof Nerias knew that his son Sedacius was caught in the snares of harlots and indeed had lusted after his brother’s wife, Ruth, and his brother’s daughter, Esther, and showed no remorse, yet Nerias suffered his son to live in his own house, yea, and fed him and his servants also. For Nerias, the Levite, was a righteous man. And the people saw the wisdom of the righteous man and Sedacius was spurned by the Levites, they spake not of him. There was a void, thereof. He was forgotten as a cloud melted by the force of the noonday sun, as smoke dispersed by a breeze. He was shadowless, a nothing, less than a mote of dust.’" The second bothered me more. As Brodie and Lika travel around, the novel tells us "between them, they made a modest living, supplemented by their nights gambling with the martingale system in Biarritz’s casino." Brodie describes his 'foolproof' system: "I only played roulette – you know what a hopeless gambler I am. I played a simple martingale system: doubling my stake (2 fr) when I lost and pocketing my winnings when I won. You only bet on 2 to 1 odds. Red or black, odd or even. By the law of averages you will win at some stage. The only strange thing – if you double your stake each time you lose – is that sometimes you can be betting 40 francs to win 2 – so you need a substantial float." Except of course this system is based on a mathematical fallacy. Even if the chances of winning were genuinely 2-to-1 (in practice, roulette is biased to the house) the expected winnings are zero. The last sentence highlights why - you don't just need a 'substantial float', you need an infinite one (and a casino prepared to extend you infinite credit lines). Sooner or later, the gambler will lose his entire float, the losses from which will balance out the modest winnings. I assumed that the flaw in the system would ultimately form a key plot point - but when it didn't it caused me to wonder if the author saw the flaw. Overall, a pleasant but not particularly stimulating read. 3 stars less one for the dubious scriptural and mathematical references. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Like the inner workings of a finely-tuned piano, the harmony of William Boyd’s Love is Blind is the work of true craftsmanship that is sensed more than outwardly observed. On the surface, it’s a rousing good yarn – a book that is, among other things, a novel about the fine art of piano tuning (Brodie Moncur, the protagonist, practices that profession), about love, passion, and revenge, and about how fateful encounters can change the trajectory of one’s life. It’s page-turning and immersing. Brodie Like the inner workings of a finely-tuned piano, the harmony of William Boyd’s Love is Blind is the work of true craftsmanship that is sensed more than outwardly observed. On the surface, it’s a rousing good yarn – a book that is, among other things, a novel about the fine art of piano tuning (Brodie Moncur, the protagonist, practices that profession), about love, passion, and revenge, and about how fateful encounters can change the trajectory of one’s life. It’s page-turning and immersing. Brodie experiences both an internal and external journey after falling under the spell of a Russian soprano, Lika Bloom, who happens to already be in a relationship with “the Irish Liszt”, a prodigious piano player named John Kilbarron who is managed by his sinister brother Malachi. His passion for her will take him from Scotland to Paris to St. Petersburg and to the Andaman islands. Throughout, there are hints of Chekhov – one of his most famous short stories “The Lady with the Little Dog”, the name Lika (in Googling that name, I discovered that Chekhov was also passionate about a singer named Chekhov), the Russian overtones. I suspect there are even more references that I overlooked, having read some of Chekhov years ago. The title, Love is Blind, offers yet more layers. Brodie is, indeed, near-blind—he can’t see well at all without both the lenses in his Franklin spectacles. It’s a metaphor, of course, that the reader must take care not to trust Brodie’s “vision” of events. Add to that the fact that Brodie suffers from tuberculosis and is under the hand of the ticking clock and the tension is riveted up even higher. Each of William Boyd’s fans—and I am one of them—will have his or her own favorites. I have loved Any Human Heart and the more recent Waiting for Sunrise. In my estimation, Love is Blind can stand confidently with those masterfully-written books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    *3.5* A digital ARC of this book was provided to me by the publishing house, Viking, via NetGalley "Love is Blind" is the bittersweet story of Brodie Moncur, a young Scotish man who fixes pianos for a job, in the late 1800s. But the new century is coming, and so are a lot of changes in Brodie's life. He will fall deeply in love with a Russian soprano, Lika, and this love will perpetuate for all his life, through thick and thin, and through difficulti but wonderful times. I must admit that I've nev *3.5* A digital ARC of this book was provided to me by the publishing house, Viking, via NetGalley "Love is Blind" is the bittersweet story of Brodie Moncur, a young Scotish man who fixes pianos for a job, in the late 1800s. But the new century is coming, and so are a lot of changes in Brodie's life. He will fall deeply in love with a Russian soprano, Lika, and this love will perpetuate for all his life, through thick and thin, and through difficulti but wonderful times. I must admit that I've never read anything by William Boyd, I requested a digital copy of this book only becuase I'm a sucker for historical ficiton set in the 1800s in England, but this story is so much more. First of all because it is set all around the world, and that solely is truly fascinating. And Boyd has a wonderful way with words. He has the magical ability to create vivid settings (more than vivid characters), and for this reason I was fully in the story. The characters were a little bit flat in my opinion. The love in the title really is blind, cause the two main characters meet once and are already in love, but I can get over that, it seems believable considering the strong passions of that time. Love was very different from what we experience today, and at the same time purer, in my opinion. Lika was... Lika. I didn't truly comprehend her reasons and the plot twist was a little bit predictable for me, we had all the clues, but at the same time I truly don't understand why she did what she did. The story in certain points seemed to drag a little too much for my tastes, and the same events took place over and over again. And then again. The ending too was quite clichey but at the same time frustrating. But beside that I'm glad I've read this book, it's a fascinating story for sure, set in a wonderful time in our history.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sid Nuncius

    I enjoyed parts of Love Is Blind, but I found a good deal of it dull and I’m not sure that it added up to much in the end. The book follows Brodie Moncur from his early working life in the late 19th Century as a talented piano-tuner in Edinburgh as his work and his health needs take him to various places in France, Russia and beyond. He develops an obsessive love for a Russian singer and this is both the driver of the book’s events and the main subject of William Boyd’s interest. For the first th I enjoyed parts of Love Is Blind, but I found a good deal of it dull and I’m not sure that it added up to much in the end. The book follows Brodie Moncur from his early working life in the late 19th Century as a talented piano-tuner in Edinburgh as his work and his health needs take him to various places in France, Russia and beyond. He develops an obsessive love for a Russian singer and this is both the driver of the book’s events and the main subject of William Boyd’s interest. For the first third or so of the book I was carried along by Boyd’s easy prose and the interest which, slightly surprisingly, I found in the details of Brodie technical work on pianos. The trouble is, I wasn’t very convinced by Brodie’s passion and found that I was more interested in his piano-tuning than the state of his heart. I got no real sense of obsession and I also found it completely un-erotic, despite some fairly graphic descriptions. This is not a good combination in a tale of overmastering passion and as the story moved from place to place I kept thinking, "OK, you're somewhere else now and you're still in love with her. And…?” I wasn’t drawn in by the period setting, either. The language isn’t always convincing and there are some rather clunky references to contemporary events and so on. Things picked up a little in the later part of the book with some more dramatic developments and sense of threat, but it still wasn’t all that involving. It wasn’t helped by a somewhat melodramatic feel and in the end I was quite glad to finish the book, whose emotional climax didn’t affect me in the slightest, I’m afraid, because it felt contrived and overdone. Love Is Blind is by no means terrible, but it certainly isn’t one of Boyd’s best and I can only give it a very lukewarm recommendation. (My thanks to Penguin for an ARC via NetGalley.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    SueKich

    Boyd’s vision. William Boyd writes a story of love and great passion set at the turn of the last century. Brodie Moncur, son of an overbearing patriarchal clergyman, has a particularly musical ear. His work as a highly skilled piano tuner takes him to Paris and beyond, fine-tuning the instruments of the great concert pianists of their day. On one such occasion, he meets Russian opera singer Lika Blum, mistress of a now-fading Irish pianist, and falls madly in love with her. Their affair must be c Boyd’s vision. William Boyd writes a story of love and great passion set at the turn of the last century. Brodie Moncur, son of an overbearing patriarchal clergyman, has a particularly musical ear. His work as a highly skilled piano tuner takes him to Paris and beyond, fine-tuning the instruments of the great concert pianists of their day. On one such occasion, he meets Russian opera singer Lika Blum, mistress of a now-fading Irish pianist, and falls madly in love with her. Their affair must be conducted in secret. Boyd is a natural storyteller who conjures up whole other worlds in which his readers can thoroughly immerse themselves. And this is no exception. One might assume the work of a piano tuner to be a dry subject but in Boyd’s hands it becomes fascinating. And as he describes these procedures of “elaborate precision”, it strikes me that this is what he gives his readers: precisely crafted novels of intricate complexity. In Brodie Moncur, he has created a sympathetic and likeable hero, although Lika, his great love, is less convincing. (One never quite gets a handle on her but this may well be the author’s intention.) The relationship between Brodie and his father, the “domestic potentate”, is one of the more intriguing aspects of this book and I would have liked to see this more fully explored. Just why does Malky Moncur resent his son so? All in all, this is a highly enjoyable and diverting read that takes in Edinburgh and Paris, Nice and St Petersburg, dampers and hammer-heads, jealousy and plagiarism, contemporary complaints and human conundrums. My grateful thanks to Viking for the ARC.

  12. 5 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    “Love is blind” may seem like a tired proverb, but it fits literally and figuratively as a theme for the protagonist in Boyd’s new novel, which spans over a decade at the turn of the 19th century. Brodie Moncur is a 24-year-old handsome, educated gentleman, a first-rate piano tuner in Edinburgh,with perfect pitch and attention to detail. He has poor vision, though, and depends on his Franklin bifocals; otherwise the world appears “utterly aqueous.” When Brody’s boss at Channing & Co, a famil “Love is blind” may seem like a tired proverb, but it fits literally and figuratively as a theme for the protagonist in Boyd’s new novel, which spans over a decade at the turn of the 19th century. Brodie Moncur is a 24-year-old handsome, educated gentleman, a first-rate piano tuner in Edinburgh,with perfect pitch and attention to detail. He has poor vision, though, and depends on his Franklin bifocals; otherwise the world appears “utterly aqueous.” When Brody’s boss at Channing & Co, a family-run piano shop, offers him a showroom managerial position in their Paris store in 1894, Brodie accepts. He offers an innovative idea to employ a pianist, John Kilbarron, known as the “Irish Liszt,” to play a Channon piano in concerts and hence boost sales. This leads Brodie to the love of his life--a tall, beautiful Russian opera singer--and thus to the main action of the story. Boyd’s novels tend to be genre-benders, and this is no exception. It is part romance, international adventure, classic drama, a bit of melodrama, and even shades of a play—or a Chekhov play. The epigraph is written by Chekhov’s widow, Olga Knipper. She describes a play that her husband intended to write in the last year of his life, in which the hero loves a woman “who either does not love him or is unfaithful to him.” This isn’t a spoiler for Boyd’s novel, only perhaps an inspiration for certain narrative flecks. But there are other Chekhov parallels—from “The Lady with the Dog” and Chekhov’s gun principle to a consumptive protagonist and a small but significant appearance of a Russian doctor, among many examples. I see most of the Chekhov allusions, however, as an aspect of the author’s playful wit, his levity that occasionally borders on farce. But Boyd’s use of the absurd is counterbalanced by an underlying poignancy, so intimate does the reader become with Brodie and his fate. Brodie is immediately smitten with Lika, Kilbarron’s sometimes-mistress, and feels “as if his innards were molten—as if he might melt in a puddle of sizzling magma on the floor.” Curiously, and I think this was the author’s intention, Lika remains inscrutable, inexplicable—not really three-dimensional EXCEPT from Brodie’s point-of-view. We see her through his eyes, not ours. In fact, she “stood at the very limits of both of the lenses of his Franklin spectacles—move and squint as he might, he still couldn’t bring her into focus.” The antagonist is John Kilbarron’s brother, Malachi, a truly old school villain who follows the couple “like a hell hound,” and is present at a duel that marks a turning point of the story. What kept me fastened to the novel was Boyd’s meticulous plotting and the deepening of Brodie’s troubles related to his constant love for Lika, despite the odds which would have driven most men away. He is committed to her despite threats to his life and his need to flee at intervals, and the stress it has on his tubercular health problems. The reader is sent on quite a journey—from France, to Scotland, to Russia—and then full circle where the novel opens with a prologue in the Andaman Islands in 1906. Many sections of the novel are like little short stories that could have theoretically expanded into their own separate narratives. One of my favorites is when the reader is installed at the Moncur family home in the Scottish Borders, with Brodie’s eight brothers and sisters and his fire-and-brimstone preacher father, Malcolm Moncur, a widower, perhaps an analogue of Malachi—a grim and sinister figure. The preacher acts despicably toward his children, especially Brodie, who Malcolm refers to as “you black bastard” and other racist images of Brodie’s coloring, which doesn’t match the rest of the family’s ginger complexion. Malcolm’s blackness comes from the heart-- “a dark singularity.” Brodie rejects religion as he rejects his father. Instead of blind faith to God, Brodie chooses the providence of blind devotion to Lika. The author expresses his narrative within the secular Chekhovian divination of love, art, time, and death. As Brodie is gazing into the guts of a piano, he reflects, “Mysteries—music, time, movement—reduced to complex, elaborate mechanisms.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lins

    I simply couldn't put down "Love is Blind", by William Boyd, finishing it over a weekend. I was captivated by protagonist Brodie Moncur, a flawed but compelling character blinded by love. Boyd is a fabulous writer, winner of many awards; anyone enamored with beautiful prose and a well paced plot, will love this novel, AND learn a lot about pianos and piano tuning, music, tuberculosis, and the aborigines of the Andaman Islands!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    Brodie Moncur is a piano tuner in Edinburgh which sounds like a pretty low-key profession, but in the hands of William Boyd certainly is not. It's the last decade of the 19th century when Brodie has the opportunity to move to his employer's new Paris showroom and help establish the brand on the Continent. Brodie is an artist, not only musically, but also as a tuner. He knows how to shave and balance the hammers so that a piano has just the touch the pianist needs. This gift is what brings John K Brodie Moncur is a piano tuner in Edinburgh which sounds like a pretty low-key profession, but in the hands of William Boyd certainly is not. It's the last decade of the 19th century when Brodie has the opportunity to move to his employer's new Paris showroom and help establish the brand on the Continent. Brodie is an artist, not only musically, but also as a tuner. He knows how to shave and balance the hammers so that a piano has just the touch the pianist needs. This gift is what brings John Kilbarron--"The Irish Lizst"--into the fold as a representative of Brodie's piano company. They travel across Europe and Russia, travels made prickly by transporting a grand piano hither and yon, and by Brodie's growing obsession with Kilbarron's lover, a Russian soprano named Lika Blum. ""Love is Blind" has many of the classic Boyd features; the silvery, unattainable woman, a wavering, flawed man with a special talent. As in the best of Boyd's novels, you are immediately immersed in the time and place, familiar, yet quirky and unexpected. There's an aspect of his writing that will tickle you in a subversive way. My favorite of his novels is "The New Confessions" and the thrillers are masterful as well. It's such a joy to read his latest, and continue to experience him as a writer at his best.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    In the late 19th century, Brodie Moncur is given the chance to move from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Paris, to be assistant manager of Channon’s piano store. This is a real promotion from his prior position as piano tuner at Channon’s in Edinburgh. In Paris, he meets a Russian singer, Lika, and is thunderstruck with love for her. Complication: she is the mistress of a prominent Irish pianist, John Kilbarron, whom Brady has persuaded to promote Channon pianos. You know that the expression “love is bli In the late 19th century, Brodie Moncur is given the chance to move from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Paris, to be assistant manager of Channon’s piano store. This is a real promotion from his prior position as piano tuner at Channon’s in Edinburgh. In Paris, he meets a Russian singer, Lika, and is thunderstruck with love for her. Complication: she is the mistress of a prominent Irish pianist, John Kilbarron, whom Brady has persuaded to promote Channon pianos. You know that the expression “love is blind” means that when we’re in love, we don’t see our loved one’s flaws. So when I say that I didn’t find the Lika character particularly interesting, that’s OK. I think it’s intentional on Boyd’s part to make her almost a blank as a character. The point is Brodie’s love and the journey it takes him on. While Boyd tells a tale that moves from Edinburgh to Paris to the south of France, to Saint Petersburg, back to France and then to the Andaman Islands and makes the reader feel present in all those locations and living with the characters, I have to admit this book was disappointing to me. I cared about Brodie Moncur and what happened to him, but there were several parts of the book that didn’t seem to serve any particular purpose, at least to me. (view spoiler)[What was the point of the scenes with Brodie’s horrible, abusive preacher father? Why did his father insult him for his being “black”? What was the point of Brodie finding out that his favorite brother had become a drunk and an abuser himself? (hide spoiler)] I’ve been a fan of William Boyd for a long time, but this one was lukewarm for me. An aside: There is a moment in which Brodie thinks about his clandestine lover, Lika, that they will be together “come what may.” Well, if you have seen the film Moulin Rouge with Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman as many times as I have, this will make you smile, because that’s the name and theme of a frequently-repeated love song between their characters, one of whom,(view spoiler)[ like Brodie, has a deathly case of tuberculosis. (hide spoiler)]

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    Penguin Books (UK) Description: 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 Penguin Books (UK) Description: 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. The prologue is a letter from: Port Blair Andaman Islands Indian Empire 11 March 1906 Dear Amelia, [...] In the meantime, with my love as always, your sister, Page Part One opens in Edinburgh 1894, and Brodie Moncur is looking out through the windows of Channon & Co, over the bustle and dreck of daytime George Street. I make no secret of my appreciation of this author. 5* Any Human Heart 5* Sweet Caress 4* Ordinary Thunderstorms 4* Restless 4* Brazzaville Beach 4* Love is Blind 3* A Haunting 3* Armadillo 2* Solo WL The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth WL Bamboo: Essays and Criticism TR Waiting for Sunrise TR The New Confessions

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rob Twinem

    Love is Blind by William Boyd is a truly memorable story with wonderful characterization. His colourful writing instantly transports the reader to Scotland at the end of the nineteenth century and continues the journey through mainland Europe at a time of great change and gathering turmoil in the years immediately preceding the 1st World War. Brodie Moncur is a piano tuner in the employ of Channons of Edinburgh and when the opportunity is offered to manage the Paris store he readily agrees. Brodi Love is Blind by William Boyd is a truly memorable story with wonderful characterization. His colourful writing instantly transports the reader to Scotland at the end of the nineteenth century and continues the journey through mainland Europe at a time of great change and gathering turmoil in the years immediately preceding the 1st World War. Brodie Moncur is a piano tuner in the employ of Channons of Edinburgh and when the opportunity is offered to manage the Paris store he readily agrees. Brodie is an ambitious and proactive manager and believes that the best way to expand and promote the "Channon" brand is to employ the services of piano virtuoso John Kilbarron thus advancing the Company's pianos throughout Europe. This association leads to a fateful meeting between Brodie and the beautiful alluring Russian singer Lydia Blum, Kilbarrons on off girlfriend. A passionate clandestine affair develops that results in Brodie and Lydia fleeing from city to city hotly pursued by Malachi Kilbarron seeking revenge for his wronged brother. I often think that the mark of a good story is the author's ability to take me the reader with him on a journey of discovery, to remove from the mundanity of modern living and surround me with the smells, sounds and excitement of the animated world he is describing. We therefore enter the preserve of piano virtuoso's at a time in history when piano use and production was at its highest and live performances although the privilege of the wealthy still attracted a mass following. Welcome to a place where the combustion engine has made an entrance, where consumption has destroyed the lives of young and old, and when true gentlemen resolved their differences by resorting to a dueling contest. An exciting story brilliantly executed by one of England's greatest living authors..Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I have written. Highly Recommended

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    This novel took me almost completely by surprise. I've read Boyd in the past so the arc of the story was one I expected (the life of one man during his formative years to death) but the depth and richness of both the character and the setting made this a wonderful and I feel what will be an unforgettable read. The one man—Brodie Moncur is a Scottish piano tuner. Brodie works for a large piano company in Scotland during the late 1800’s. His innovative ideas for piano sales and service have landed This novel took me almost completely by surprise. I've read Boyd in the past so the arc of the story was one I expected (the life of one man during his formative years to death) but the depth and richness of both the character and the setting made this a wonderful and I feel what will be an unforgettable read. The one man—Brodie Moncur is a Scottish piano tuner. Brodie works for a large piano company in Scotland during the late 1800’s. His innovative ideas for piano sales and service have landed him a job in the expansion of the company to the Paris. There his latest sales idea to furnish the company’s pianos to famous concert pianists brings him into contact with John Kilbarron (a world renown pianist), his brother Malachi (manager for brother John) and Lika Blum (a want to be Russian opera singer, the mistress of John). Brodie becomes part of this entourage as they tour Europe and by mid-story land in St. Petersburg Russia at the turn of the century. I won't go any further into the story as it may give away too much but from the title one can guess that a love affair happens and affects all of these characters. It is a wonderful read with a rich historical setting that I could and did get lost in it. Its only draw back is that it is slow to get going as Boyd seems to revel in setting the stage with his main characters for several hundred pages and there were times when I felt the story was too light for the heft of the characters drawn. But once it got going I was thankful for the ground work laid. The characters who all build their lives around music in one way or another proved fascinating. This was a time when the richness of music and a ticket to a concert hall were primary sources of entertainment and the musicians fostered and supported a part of the cultural fabric. Highly recommended it if like rich historical fiction and a strong character driven story. A great story for a winter nights by the fire. (Want to thank Penguin Random and Main Street Books in Orleans, Ma for this advanced reader's copy and the chance to review this book).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Willliam Boyd has a gift for writing fiction that has depth and texture but at the same time is eminently accessible. Set at the turn of the twentieth century, Love Is Blind is in many ways typical of his oeuvre. From the first line the characters draw you into a world that feels detailed, authentic and enticing. The central character, Brodie Moncur, the eldest son of tyrannical Scottish preacher, has been born with perfect pitch, an ability that enables him to forge a career for himself as a pi Willliam Boyd has a gift for writing fiction that has depth and texture but at the same time is eminently accessible. Set at the turn of the twentieth century, Love Is Blind is in many ways typical of his oeuvre. From the first line the characters draw you into a world that feels detailed, authentic and enticing. The central character, Brodie Moncur, the eldest son of tyrannical Scottish preacher, has been born with perfect pitch, an ability that enables him to forge a career for himself as a piano-tuner and thereby escape the limitations of his claustrophobic home, first to a job running a piano shop in Paris and later to a list of exotic places across Europe and beyond. I was never completely convinced by the depiction of Brodie's overwhelming passion, his love for the opera singer he met in Paris, and the low-key ending left me slightly underwhelmed. Nonetheless, it's an entertaining, well-researched and cleverly constructed novel with some good twists. and in many ways it's Boyd's best novel for some years.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    For about 2/3-3/4 of this novel i thought it was truly excellent and would make my top 10 of the year, but then the author makes some choices with how to get to the end (which was always kind of clear) that just didn't work out for me so the last 1/4 or so of the novel became a bit of a slog Overall excellent for most of it but loses energy in the last quarter or so and becomes a fairly banal story of failure after that; the writing and characters still keep it readable but it could have been so For about 2/3-3/4 of this novel i thought it was truly excellent and would make my top 10 of the year, but then the author makes some choices with how to get to the end (which was always kind of clear) that just didn't work out for me so the last 1/4 or so of the novel became a bit of a slog Overall excellent for most of it but loses energy in the last quarter or so and becomes a fairly banal story of failure after that; the writing and characters still keep it readable but it could have been so much better with a different storyline in the last part (and the same ending more or less as that was the natural conclusion)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    One of the best books I've read! William Boyd is certainly becoming my favourite author! Love is Blind is the unlikely story of a piano tuner - Brodie Moncur. More than just a love story, it traces his life across Europe, Russia and eventually to the Andaman Islands. His love for Lika, a Russian opera singer, never falters, despite their being separated.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    This was...I’m not sure. It was very “1890s White dude problems” It was very well written, despite this, although TB is kinda the deus ex machina of neo-, or actual Victorian novels. So that was unfortunately predictable.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    2.75 Just to be awkward. A mostly compelling tale aided by Boyd's excellent prose and descriptions of 19th century Europe. I particularly liked the attention to detail that Boyd had regarding the main character's profession which in the hands of an lesser author would have been mostly skipped over. The author has done a lot of research and it shows. The only thing that didn't quite work for me was the love story, but it's neither here nor there as there was plenty of other things going on to cou 2.75 Just to be awkward. A mostly compelling tale aided by Boyd's excellent prose and descriptions of 19th century Europe. I particularly liked the attention to detail that Boyd had regarding the main character's profession which in the hands of an lesser author would have been mostly skipped over. The author has done a lot of research and it shows. The only thing that didn't quite work for me was the love story, but it's neither here nor there as there was plenty of other things going on to counterbalance it. Love is Blind will be a solid but unsurprising read to established fans of the author, and a good introduction to newcomers. With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    A grand tour of Russia and Europe at the turn of the 20th Century This is a novel that has it all: terrific writing, wonderful storytelling, just a bit of mystery and transportation to era and place, lovingly described, set at the turn of the 20th Century… Love is Blind bowls along as the story of Brodie Moncur, his trials and tribulations, a life adventurer, unfold. Brought up in the Scottish Borders, in a huge family with a fire and brimstone preacher for a father, he is picked on by this monste A grand tour of Russia and Europe at the turn of the 20th Century This is a novel that has it all: terrific writing, wonderful storytelling, just a bit of mystery and transportation to era and place, lovingly described, set at the turn of the 20th Century… Love is Blind bowls along as the story of Brodie Moncur, his trials and tribulations, a life adventurer, unfold. Brought up in the Scottish Borders, in a huge family with a fire and brimstone preacher for a father, he is picked on by this monster of a man for ritual humiliation and attack. He determines to leave at an early age. Brodie has the gift of music, with an exceptional ear and takes up piano tuning with Channons in Edinburgh, a family business building pianos. Success and capability propel him to help run the Channon store in Paris, where his marketing ideas eventually prove fruitful. Channon pianos are the ideal vehicles for concert pianists as they tour, and Brodie, as tuner, accompanies them on tour keeping the instrument pitch perfect. It is thus that he falls in with John and Malachi Kilbarron, the former the pianist with a sizeable alcohol problem, the latter a manipulator in team Kilbarron. Amongst the party also is Lika, their Russian companion, for whom Brodie falls into a sybaritic thrall for the rest of the story. It is in Russia that he can address his feelings properly….. Brodie, however, falls foul of the Channon dynasty, through no fault of his own and eventually fares little better with the Kilbarrons. Consumption (TB) takes its toll on Brodie but recuperative sojourns in The South of France and Biarritz all add to the rich storyline. The author beautifully transports his reader to life as it was presumably lived at the end of the 19th Century, with wonderful historical detail. In Russia Brodie is introduced to vodka flavoured with all kinds of spices – cinnamon, caraway, clove, anise and as he explores the more rural Dubechnia, his eyes are drawn to the roads paved with thick oak planks (who knew?). Period detail has clearly been well researched. The intricacies of piano tuning, too, are there without being in the least tedious…”repetition action” was discovered and patented in 1821 and means that when a note is struck several times, it will not quite return to its position of rest. This apparently transformed the instrument entirely. A novel to savour and enjoy.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura Spira

    This book is very unlike other books by William Boyd that I have read and I found it disappointing. The writing flows easily so I kept reading but I was barely interested in the main character, Brodie Moncur, whose life story is the story of the book. Brodie and all the other characters seemed very two dimensional so it was difficult to have much enthusiasm for them. I found myself more interested in the fate of the little dog than any of them - thankfully, he gets a happy ending. The book is set This book is very unlike other books by William Boyd that I have read and I found it disappointing. The writing flows easily so I kept reading but I was barely interested in the main character, Brodie Moncur, whose life story is the story of the book. Brodie and all the other characters seemed very two dimensional so it was difficult to have much enthusiasm for them. I found myself more interested in the fate of the little dog than any of them - thankfully, he gets a happy ending. The book is set in various European and Russian cities at the end of the nineteenth century and start of the twentieth. They all rather merged into one as Brodie moves from place to place, plying his trade as piano tuner: I now know more about piano tuning than I ever wanted to. He suffers poor health but mysteriously manages to keep afloat financially. His doomed love affair becomes rather boring, with its many secret notes and assignations in attic rooms in small hotels. The final section, in a rather more exotic location, has him abandoning the pianos and hooking up with a Margaret Mead sort of anthropologist - who might have been the most interesting character of all but is only given a few short pages. The parts of the book which take place in concert halls and theatres reminded me of my comfort reading many years ago, when I would escape the constant demands of small children into the pages of books by Claire Rayner. She set a whole series of historical novels in the theatrical world and I remember them as well written, undemanding reads. That's how I would class this book but I expected something better from William Boyd.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mij Woodward

    I did not fully get into the shoes of Brodie Moncur of Scotland in the late 1800's, but I definitely got caught up in his adventures, especially his love affair with Lika Blum. As I read along, I kept thinking of two things: (1) the meaning of the title "Love is Blind," and (2) hoping that BBC will turn this story into a television series like Boyd's earlier work, Any Human Heart. With the title, Love is Blind, there is the thought that sometimes the person in love ignores the signs of trouble on I did not fully get into the shoes of Brodie Moncur of Scotland in the late 1800's, but I definitely got caught up in his adventures, especially his love affair with Lika Blum. As I read along, I kept thinking of two things: (1) the meaning of the title "Love is Blind," and (2) hoping that BBC will turn this story into a television series like Boyd's earlier work, Any Human Heart. With the title, Love is Blind, there is the thought that sometimes the person in love ignores the signs of trouble on the horizon, and is willing to overlook injurious things that are part and parcel of that love. And yes, there were elements of those things here. As for a BBC series--this would make a grand series. Brodie's relationship with his abusive father, his career as a piano tuner and working for a piano manufacturing company, his relationship with Lika and the men in her life, his illness, and other events, adventures and travels--I can see it all unfold in a series. What I liked about this novel was the story. It felt like a great yarn, and a good one. One criticism is that I tired of reading detailed descriptions of various things, like the weather, the physical environs. Since Brodie travelled, this meant there were frequent descriptions of each new place he experienced. Okay, okay, I'd think--let me get on with the story. All in all though, a very satisfying read. Well done, William Boyd.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Cayley

    An engrossing novel by one of the best living novelists. It is the tale of a Scottish piano-tuner, Brodie Moncur, son of a brutal alcoholic church minister, who is sent by his employer to Paris, where he meets the love of his life, a Russian singer living with a virtuoso Irish pianist, John Kilbarron. As Brodie’s life takes him on to Russia, other parts of France, elsewhere in Europe and finally the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean, we see the role that chance plays in it and the d An engrossing novel by one of the best living novelists. It is the tale of a Scottish piano-tuner, Brodie Moncur, son of a brutal alcoholic church minister, who is sent by his employer to Paris, where he meets the love of his life, a Russian singer living with a virtuoso Irish pianist, John Kilbarron. As Brodie’s life takes him on to Russia, other parts of France, elsewhere in Europe and finally the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean, we see the role that chance plays in it and the deceits people engage in. There is violence, and Brodie moves from being haunted by memories of his unloving relationship with his father to a fear of being killed which stops him from settling for too long in any one place. To the end, he never escapes his fears. The narrative holds the attention throughout, and the style is every bit as good as one has come to expect of William Boyd. Interspersed are some fascinating glimpses into the work of piano tuners. There are also some literary games involving allusions to Chekhov (who makes an unnamed guest appearance) - but you do not need to spot these to enjoy a superb book. With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I find William Boyd an uneven writer at the best of times – and this perhaps isn’t the best of times. There’s a lot to find fault with in this his latest novel, (2018) but nevertheless, and almost in spite of myself, I really quite enjoyed it. “A rattling good yarn” is the cliché that springs to mind and which sits well with all the other clichés in the book. This is hardly high literary fiction. The storyline is frankly ridiculous at times. The characters have little depth or development. The s I find William Boyd an uneven writer at the best of times – and this perhaps isn’t the best of times. There’s a lot to find fault with in this his latest novel, (2018) but nevertheless, and almost in spite of myself, I really quite enjoyed it. “A rattling good yarn” is the cliché that springs to mind and which sits well with all the other clichés in the book. This is hardly high literary fiction. The storyline is frankly ridiculous at times. The characters have little depth or development. The sex scenes are frankly embarrassing. And you’ll learn more about piano mechanisms and piano tuning that you will ever need to draw on in the most esoteric of conversations. However, if you can suspend your critical faculties for a while, fall into this sweeping romantic saga and go along for the ride, crossing continents and encountering a whole host of unlikely people en route, it really is quite an entertaining read and it retained my interest until the end.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Al

    In William Boyd’s latest book, Brodie Moncur is a myopic but talented piano tuner in fin de siecle Edinburgh. Unexpectedly, his work takes him to Paris where he has the good fortune to meet the woman, an aspiring singer, who will become the love of his life. He also has the bad fortune to find himself having to work for the woman’s present, although soon to be former, lover, who is a famed concert pianist and a dissolute, arrogant person. As one would expect, complications ensue. Mr. Boyd is a w In William Boyd’s latest book, Brodie Moncur is a myopic but talented piano tuner in fin de siecle Edinburgh. Unexpectedly, his work takes him to Paris where he has the good fortune to meet the woman, an aspiring singer, who will become the love of his life. He also has the bad fortune to find himself having to work for the woman’s present, although soon to be former, lover, who is a famed concert pianist and a dissolute, arrogant person. As one would expect, complications ensue. Mr. Boyd is a wonderful writer, almost incapable of producing a bad book. Love is Blind reads easily and has great pace. I would rate it five stars but for a few incredulities in the plot; even with them, it’s a very entertaining story. Recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Robert Intriago

    Mr. Boyd is a wonderful story teller. I am never disappointed with his books. This rendition is not one of his best but I still enjoyed it. The characters, other than Brody, are not that well developed. The research is impeccable and the setting for the story, late 19 century to early 20th, is fascinating. I also found the descriptions of the cities in the story informative especially that of St. Petersburg, Russia. My overall rating was a 3.5 to 4.Mr. Boyd is a wonderful story teller. I am neve Mr. Boyd is a wonderful story teller. I am never disappointed with his books. This rendition is not one of his best but I still enjoyed it. The characters, other than Brody, are not that well developed. The research is impeccable and the setting for the story, late 19 century to early 20th, is fascinating. I also found the descriptions of the cities in the story informative especially that of St. Petersburg, Russia. My overall rating was a 3.5 to 4.Mr. Boyd is a wonderful story teller. I am never disappointed with his books. This rendition is not one of his best but I still enjoyed it. The characters, other than Brody, are not that well developed. The research is impeccable and the setting for the story, late 19 century to early 20th, is fascinating. I also found the descriptions of the cities in the story informative especially that of St. Petersburg, Russia. My overall rating was a 3.5 to 4.

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