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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. 4 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

    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.

  4. 4 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

  5. 5 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.

  6. 4 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.

  7. 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.)

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 5 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

  12. 4 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.

  13. 5 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

  14. 4 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.

  15. 5 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shahiron Sahari

    This enjoyable book, described by Heywood Hill bookshop as "a tale of music, love, and revenge in fin de siècle Europe", is William Boyd's best since Any Human Heart. Well written and well paced, it also required me to pull out the dictionary a few times because of the arcane world of piano tuning and classical music. Helps also, I have since learnt, if you are familiar with the work of Boyd's favourite writer, Anton Chekhov — I'm not — as this story alludes not just to his works but to his own This enjoyable book, described by Heywood Hill bookshop as "a tale of music, love, and revenge in fin de siècle Europe", is William Boyd's best since Any Human Heart. Well written and well paced, it also required me to pull out the dictionary a few times because of the arcane world of piano tuning and classical music. Helps also, I have since learnt, if you are familiar with the work of Boyd's favourite writer, Anton Chekhov — I'm not — as this story alludes not just to his works but to his own life story. But that didn't mar my enjoyment of reading it at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    BiblioPhil

    Me no Lika. (not really true but couldn't resist.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rod MacLeod

    William Boyd at his best. A beguiling love story that crosses borders and seas. Beautifully written.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Grieve

    I thoroughly enjoyed this sweeping tale of a piano-tuner and his life, love and travels, beginning at the end of the 19th century. Brodie Moncur is a gifted piano-tuner who leaves his Scottish home and overbearing father to seek work, first in Edinburgh, and then as his technical and entrepreneurial skills are rewarded, he is sent by his employer, Channon, the piano manufacturers,to work in Paris. Here, he strives to increase piano sales by forging an agreement with a famous Irish pianist. While I thoroughly enjoyed this sweeping tale of a piano-tuner and his life, love and travels, beginning at the end of the 19th century. Brodie Moncur is a gifted piano-tuner who leaves his Scottish home and overbearing father to seek work, first in Edinburgh, and then as his technical and entrepreneurial skills are rewarded, he is sent by his employer, Channon, the piano manufacturers,to work in Paris. Here, he strives to increase piano sales by forging an agreement with a famous Irish pianist. While working with this man, Kilbarron, Moncur meets Lika, a Russian singer who will be the love of his life (although she does not exactly seem to reciprocate). The story ranges far and wide, from Paris to Russia, and then further afield to exotic climes. William Boyd's writing is always marvellous, and the reader is immersed in the characters' lives and times, whether it be Edinburgh or fin-de-siecle Paris. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beverley

    Love is Blind is the story of Brodie Moncur, son of a violent and alcoholic clergymen, eldest sibling of a brood of children and talented piano tuner. When the opportunity to live and work in Paris arises he grabs it with both hands, leaving the dark gloom of Peebles and Edinburgh behind. It is here that he meets Lika, she is the girlfriend of John Kilbarron, a famous pianist who employs Brodie to be his own personal piano tuner and he and Lika are instantly attracted to one another. The book tr Love is Blind is the story of Brodie Moncur, son of a violent and alcoholic clergymen, eldest sibling of a brood of children and talented piano tuner. When the opportunity to live and work in Paris arises he grabs it with both hands, leaving the dark gloom of Peebles and Edinburgh behind. It is here that he meets Lika, she is the girlfriend of John Kilbarron, a famous pianist who employs Brodie to be his own personal piano tuner and he and Lika are instantly attracted to one another. The book travels through France, to Russia and much further afield, taking the reader on a tour of the world at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century. I love William Boyd’s writing and Any Human Heart is one of my most favourite books, but I really struggled with Love Is Blind. I am going to hold my hands up and say that my reading of it was a little disjointed, I had a migraine for five days and couldn’t read a thing and then I had some books I had to read for Blog Tour commitments so I dipped in and out of it and this may have had an impact on my overall impression of the book. Saying that though, for those five days where I wasn’t reading I didn’t miss the book at all although I desperately missed reading. I think I struggled because I didn’t really like Brodie or Lika and I am still unsure what I thought of Brodie as a character. I suppose that he was presented as a fully rounded man who is neither good nor bad and who is capable of both great and awful things but I really struggled to connect with him. In a book where all of the action takes place around one man it makes it difficult to empathise or feel fear or pity at key times in the story. Saying that though, the plot is wonderful and the storytelling is brilliant. It is intricate and clever and I was carried away by the engrossing tale of love and revenge, so much so that I read the second half of the book in one-sitting. I love a book that spans generations and timelines and for the most part this book scratched that itch. I would have liked to have known more about the places he was living though, the social and political backgrounds would have added more depth perhaps. He spends a lot of time in Russia and mixes in very exalted circles but I couldn’t get a feel for the political situation there and my rudimentary knowledge of Russian history tells me it was an interesting time period. I suppose I felt that despite his moving around Europe, I couldn’t get a feel for where he was. It was only the descriptions of the food he was eating that provided any depth – and what descriptions they were, completely mouth-watering at times! William Boyd really excels at wonderful dialogue, conversations between characters never feel jarring and he uses letters from Brodie to his family back home to keep the action moving well. However, at times things felt plodding and some characters appeared who seemed to have no bearing on the story whatsoever. The intricate dance between Brodie and the Kilbarron brothers, John and Malachi, is filled with tension and these unnecessary characters seemed to take away from rather than add to the what will happen next element. My favourite part of the book was this relationship between these three men and there are moments of brilliance and power that kept me turning the pages. Despite my difficulties with the book I still think that William Boyd is an astonishing writer and overall I did like Love Is Blind (I have given it 3 stars) but I will say one thing — there seems to be an obsession with breasts. So many boobs. I was sick of reading about them. Under dressing gowns, pressed flat beneath a blouse, in the bedroom of a brothel – it felt wholly unnecessary and a little juvenile at times to be honest. This is a book about how overpowering love can be and how it can make you do reckless things and whilst I understood Brodie’s visceral and primal reaction to Lika it felt incredibly incongruous on occasion. I am not a prude in the slightest and have absolutely no issues with sex scenes in books, but the constant references and observations felt grubby and made me feel more than a little uncomfortable. https://beverleyhasread.wordpress.com/

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Danby

    When a new novel by William Boyd features a male protagonist, my first thought ‘is it another Logan Mountstuart’ with a feeling of anticipation. But ‘Love is Blind’ is not another version of ‘Any Human Hear’t. It tells the story of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish piano tuner who travels Europe as he seeks warmer climes and the love of his life. Boyd is on good form and I raced through ‘Love is Blind’, enveloped in Brodie’s end of 19th century/early 20th century story. Told almost exclusively from When a new novel by William Boyd features a male protagonist, my first thought ‘is it another Logan Mountstuart’ with a feeling of anticipation. But ‘Love is Blind’ is not another version of ‘Any Human Hear’t. It tells the story of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish piano tuner who travels Europe as he seeks warmer climes and the love of his life. Boyd is on good form and I raced through ‘Love is Blind’, enveloped in Brodie’s end of 19th century/early 20th century story. Told almost exclusively from Brodie’s viewpoint, plus some of the letters he writes and receives, we see the world and the people he meets through his eyes so, as he falls in with thieves the sense of impending doom increases. He is a likeable, believeable character, son of a fire-and-brimstone alcoholic preacher, living in a time of great change as motor cars appear on the road and the signs of war increase but when consumption kills. The details of Brodie’s piano tuning are fascinating, these skills are the passport to his travels, getting him into and out of trouble, enabling him to earn money wherever he finds himself. When the story starts in 1894 Brodie is a piano tuner for Channon & Co in Edinburgh. Offered a job at the Channon shop in Paris, he takes the opportunity to escape his oppressive father and so falls in with John Kilbarron, a fading Irish concert pianist who comes to rely on Brodie’s magical skills with his tuning tools. The major difficulties of Brodie’s story are established in Paris. He falls in love with Lika Blum, would-be Russian opera singer, who may or may not be in a relationship with Kilbarron. And he starts to cough up blood. Consumption is diagnosed and Brodie travels to Nice in search of a warmer climate, unable to work, leaving Lika behind. From the beginning, Brodie pursues Lika rather than the other way round, she insists on secrecy and is enigmatic when pressed for details of her earlier life. Warning signs that are obvious to the reader but to which Brodie is blind, the blindness of the title, are everywhere. Lika does not share many secrets and there is no authorial voice to fill in her backstory. He is a young man in love/lust and cannot see what seems to be staring him in the face. He writes a succession of letters which, given the need for secrecy, are foolhardy. So when trouble finds him, in the shape of Kilbarron’s thuggish brother Malachi, it is not a surprise. The character of Lika is lightly drawn but that is perhaps because Brodie knows so little about her. They arrange assignations in hotel rooms and on riverbanks, passing notes to each other and sharing significant glances. The affair continues as the Kilbarron party moves to St Petersburg, Russia, to perform a programme for a new wealthy benefactor. It is here that the cracks start to appear in the Kilbarron/Moncur relationship. The final part of the book was less satisfactory for me. The Prologue to the story is a short letter written in 1906 by a woman called Page from an address in the Andaman Islands, Indian Empire, in which Brodie Moncur is briefly mentioned. In Part VII, Brodie is living at Deemer’s Hotel, Port Blair, the Andamans. I found his encounter with ethnologist Page Arbogast and their research trip to the Nicobar Islands superfluous. Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-revie...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Love Is Blind opens with a letter from a woman to her sister anticipating the arrival of a male assistant. The story then jumps back some 15 years to linearly tell the story of the events that led Brodie Moncur, a young Scotsman, to the remote Andaman islands to be an American ethnologist’s assistant. Brodie is a piano tuner, a profession that will always ensure his employment. His story starts in Channon’s Edinburgh piano shop but two life-changing events soon ensue: as a result of his innovativ Love Is Blind opens with a letter from a woman to her sister anticipating the arrival of a male assistant. The story then jumps back some 15 years to linearly tell the story of the events that led Brodie Moncur, a young Scotsman, to the remote Andaman islands to be an American ethnologist’s assistant. Brodie is a piano tuner, a profession that will always ensure his employment. His story starts in Channon’s Edinburgh piano shop but two life-changing events soon ensue: as a result of his innovative approach to attracting business he is sent to restore the fortunes of the inexplicably ailing Paris branch of the business, run incompetently or possibly fraudulently by Channon Sr’s son, and he suffers a lung haemorrhage which turns out to be caused by tuberculosis. This is the eve of the 20th century when proper care means there is hope of a decent longevity post-diagnosis, and Brodie is accordingly not disheartened. Trying to turn the Paris business around, Brodie enlists virtuoso but slightly-past-his-best pianist John Kilmarron to play a Channon piano on stage, and makes himself available for fine-tuning it and calibrating it to Kilmarron’s particular needs. It is thus that he first encounters the love in question - Lika Blum, a Russian singer romantically and professionally attached to Kilmarron and his sinister brother and manager Malachi. A slow-burn secret affair ensues, which takes Brodie, in thrall to Lika and through her the Kilmarrons, to St Petersburg, Nice, Switzerland, and back to Paris before the far-flung Andaman islands. Eventual discovery is inevitable , and it draws the obsessive wrath of John and especially Malachi down on Brodie. If that description sounds rather bland, it is because that is how the book felt to me. In spite of a secret affair, subterfuge, discovery, a duel, a plagiarism dispute, international settings, a preternatural ability on the part of Malachi to track Brodie down wherever he hides and however carefully he hides his tracks, and the not entirely surprising revelation that Lika is not all she appears to be - the narrative never rises above the pedestrian. It is told in the third person but very much through Brodie’s sensibility, and he remains something of a cypher throughout. There is a reticence and a lack of emotion about him which feels like emptiness rather than hidden depth. He is a man who fancies he is in control of his life choices, but is actually drifting much of the time, in thrall to a rather ordinary woman adept at manipulating men. This is obviously meant to be a tale of a grand sweeping passion, but it failed to carry me with it. Unlike with the last two or three Boyd novels I found it quite hard to get into the story, and the lack of engagement persisted to the end. Brodie just isn’t a very interesting character and his life story is not especially extraordinary. He must have been enterprising to be trusted by his employer at a relatively young age, he must have been attractive to Lika as her affection for him seems genuine enough, and their love must have been passionate... but this just does not come through in the writing. It is quite odd that an author as accomplished as Boyd should have written such a flat tale, though better reviewers than me beg to differ. With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Viking for an advance copy for review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ian Brydon

    In my opinion, William Boyd is probably the finest living British writer … indeed, perhaps the finest living writer from anywhere, and this novel is a worthy addition to his canon. He seems capable of taking on any genre and in his previous works has served up intricate espionage thrillers (Restless or Waiting for Sunrise), bildungsroman works (The New Confessions), or often hilarious comedies such as A Good man in Africa or Stars and Bars. He has also excelled in the pseudo biography, such as S In my opinion, William Boyd is probably the finest living British writer … indeed, perhaps the finest living writer from anywhere, and this novel is a worthy addition to his canon. He seems capable of taking on any genre and in his previous works has served up intricate espionage thrillers (Restless or Waiting for Sunrise), bildungsroman works (The New Confessions), or often hilarious comedies such as A Good man in Africa or Stars and Bars. He has also excelled in the pseudo biography, such as Sweet Caress or Any Human Heart. One theme that underpins all of these is his ability to deliver a compelling and embracing love story. This book tells the story of Brodie Moncur. Born in the Scottish Borders in 1870, son of a querulous, bullying clergyman, Brodie was identified early in his childhood as possessing perfect pitch, and was trained as a choirboy. Sadly, his voice broke so completely as to rule out any future career as a singer, but he retained his pitch, and was encouraged to learn how to play the piano. He didn’t excel at playing the instrument, but because of his gift of perfect pitch, he became a very accomplished tuner of pianos. As the novel opens, he is working for Channon and Co, the most prestigious Scottish piano manufacturer, and is shortly despatched to work as assistant manager in the firm’s Paris showroom. Full of ideas, he suggests that the firm should commence a partnership with a noted concert pianist, paying them a fee and hoping to reap the benefit of such celebrated endorsement of their pianos. Pursuit of this idea brings Brodie into contact with John Kilbarron, a celebrated and enigmatic Irish virtuoso, perhaps slightly past his best but still a draw across the European classical music circuit. Brodie and Kilbarron strike up a mutually successful relationship that brings in a lot of money for both parties. The relationship is never entirely comfortable, however, not least because Brodie falls in love at first sight with Lydia (“Lika”) Blum, an aspiring opera singer and Kilbarron’s companion. Beset with a series of setbacks, Brodie remains obsessively in love with Lika, and ends up following the Kilbarron entourage across Europe, ending up in St Petersburg where Kilbarron finds a wealthy patron who wants him to be the focal point in her bid to establish her own prestigious musical theatre. The course of true love never did run smooth, of course, and Brodie and Lika soon find themselves deep in tribulation. As always, Boyd’s prose style is beautiful – he writes with clarity and elegance, and ensnares the reader’s attention within a few lines. He also manages to convey a huge amount of technical information about the construction and tuning of pianos, as well as painting enticing pictures of a number of locations across Europe, without ever taxing the reader’s patience or seeming to preach. The various denouements (and the book has several twists that I never saw coming) are brilliantly constructed and delivered – put together as masterfully as a Channon & Co grand piano. As it happens, this was the hundredth book I have read this year, and I seriously believe that it is the best, by a considerable margin.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ashwini Abhyankar

    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 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Cameron

    This is an enjoyable page turner of a book. The narrative follows Brodie Moncur, a bright 24 year old with very poor sight and a troublesome cough who is the son of an abusive, alcoholic but charismatic Scottish preacher. He becomes an expert piano tuner. This gives him the opportunity to go to Paris as Deputy Manager of Channon’s piano company. Through this work he meets and starts working for the “Irish Listz”, John Kilbarron – a piano playing prodigy who is now having problems with pain in hi This is an enjoyable page turner of a book. The narrative follows Brodie Moncur, a bright 24 year old with very poor sight and a troublesome cough who is the son of an abusive, alcoholic but charismatic Scottish preacher. He becomes an expert piano tuner. This gives him the opportunity to go to Paris as Deputy Manager of Channon’s piano company. Through this work he meets and starts working for the “Irish Listz”, John Kilbarron – a piano playing prodigy who is now having problems with pain in his right arm and hand, leading him to abuse alcohol and cocaine, who needs Moncur’s expertise to make his piano keys light. Moncur also comes into contact with Kilbarron’s menacing brother and manager Malachi and Kilbarron’s young Russian lover, Lika whom Moncur falls head over heels in love with. The complications of this love affair lead to Moncur having to move constantly around Europe and then to the Andaman islands. The book is an easy read as the prose is really well written . I particularly like references to the reality of life at the turn of the century such as the description of stench of all the horse dung in the streets and the armies of flies that accompany them. I think that the first half of the book is a lot stronger than the second half. You are on the journey and invested in all the various characters and then the narrative veers off and I feel a lot of loose ends are left. I became invested in the story of Brodie’s father and his rancour against Brodie which are never resolved and the life of his sisters and their precarious financial position on the death of his father are not addressed. I didn’t quite believe the main storyline in the second half of the book and felt it was all a bit messy and not focused enough. I’m glad I read the book but felt it was ultimately a bit of a let down. I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Garrett

    Brodie Moncur had me seduced from the get-go. Here, I initially thought, was a man who might even give Logan Mountstuart a run for his money. Now, while the bits I loved, I loved to bits, this human heart still belongs to Logan. The reasons for this are not to do with these men themselves - both remain more vivid to me than some men I have known off the page for decades - but rather the contexts in which their lives played out. In both novels, we find Mr Boyd more interested in what it means to l Brodie Moncur had me seduced from the get-go. Here, I initially thought, was a man who might even give Logan Mountstuart a run for his money. Now, while the bits I loved, I loved to bits, this human heart still belongs to Logan. The reasons for this are not to do with these men themselves - both remain more vivid to me than some men I have known off the page for decades - but rather the contexts in which their lives played out. In both novels, we find Mr Boyd more interested in what it means to live - and therefore chronicle - a life, than what it is to be a cog helping wind on the wheels of a plot. The problem with this, for my own tastes, is that a novel without a conspicuously signposted plot has to have wider emotional and psychological preoccupations than I found here. Although we see that Brodie’s life is cast under a star marked ‘love is blind’ and this is tested over and over again, from Brodie’s own loves (from Callum to Like) and the fatherly love of Ainsley Channon, it feels quite slight somehow, perhaps because the consequences of this constraint never really ripple out very far. Having said this, there are long sequences of the piece - particularly in Paris and Russia - which are an unending delight of a romp to read. So, it is for this reason that, while this is a long way from being my own personal favourite Boyd novel, I have given it five stars. Anything less would have felt impertinent.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Kaye

    I begin by stating that I am a great fan of William Boyd and have read and enjoyed most of his works. Love is Blind left me with a quandary. The positives are the general story line of a man who has to flit from country to country because of his love for a woman who has other ties (including a husband who is willing to kill him); the descriptive ability that dissects each location and shows a huge amount of research and understanding; a feel for the end of the nineteenth century; Boyd's prose wh I begin by stating that I am a great fan of William Boyd and have read and enjoyed most of his works. Love is Blind left me with a quandary. The positives are the general story line of a man who has to flit from country to country because of his love for a woman who has other ties (including a husband who is willing to kill him); the descriptive ability that dissects each location and shows a huge amount of research and understanding; a feel for the end of the nineteenth century; Boyd's prose which allows the reader to continue without hindrance throughout; a description of tuberculosis (and its nineteenth century treatment) that is as harrowing as anyone could possibly imagine. The negatives are characters that defy a desire to empathise (whether Brodie Moncur, the main character, or Lika or the Kilbarrons - his adversaries, although only as a result of Brodie's actions); a sense of overt description that exerts the pull of the research referred to above as a form of showiness; a storyline that stretches credibility, creating uncertainty in the reader's mind about why decisions were made that were so odd (and the need to reconcile everything with "love is blind"); the use of letters written to update the reader rather than the use of action and dialogue (and a suspicion that an editor thought the original manuscript too long and the use of letters was provided to shorten it). I enjoyed Love is Blind but not quite enough, yet would still recommend it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Love definitely is blind you realise when you read this novel. Brodie Moncur, a talented piano-tuner in Edinburgh meets someone in Paris and ends up falling in love with her to the point of obsession only to realise that she is the partner of someone else. Before that obsession starts, another one is already underway - that of the world of pianos and piano tuning. It all gets a bit technical and drawn out here in my opinion but you can’t help but realise that the art of piano tuning is a fascinat Love definitely is blind you realise when you read this novel. Brodie Moncur, a talented piano-tuner in Edinburgh meets someone in Paris and ends up falling in love with her to the point of obsession only to realise that she is the partner of someone else. Before that obsession starts, another one is already underway - that of the world of pianos and piano tuning. It all gets a bit technical and drawn out here in my opinion but you can’t help but realise that the art of piano tuning is a fascinating one! But it’s the obsession of his love for Lika which drives the novel. It’s more of an obsession for sex rather than love though as the graphic scenes suggest. He moves around and leaves Paris to head to Russia, and then...well he’s a bit lost in the geographical sense as well as the obsessive love one. Did he really even know her I ask myself? Yes he wanted sex but I didn’t really feel the obsessive love of the title. The settings are very nicely done however. The musical nature of each city shines through but so too does the filth of life around him,the chaos of each city and his account of each place make this somewhat of a fascinating travelogue. There’s some nice and apt literary references too with Onegin and Pushkin getting a mention and creeping into the story too. I did enjoy much of this, but it’s a long journey to get there.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    William Boyd's latest novel Love is Blind is aptly named. It shows us what people will do for love, the secrets they keep and what they choose not to see. Like Any Human Heart, this epic takes us around the world as it emerges into the twentieth century. Horse-drawn carriages make way for motor cars, but love affairs are as complicated as ever. Brodie Moncur is a gifted piano tuner and a romantic. He longs to leave his dour upbringing behind for a life of possibilities in Paris. Brodie goes to wo William Boyd's latest novel Love is Blind is aptly named. It shows us what people will do for love, the secrets they keep and what they choose not to see. Like Any Human Heart, this epic takes us around the world as it emerges into the twentieth century. Horse-drawn carriages make way for motor cars, but love affairs are as complicated as ever. Brodie Moncur is a gifted piano tuner and a romantic. He longs to leave his dour upbringing behind for a life of possibilities in Paris. Brodie goes to work for a piano manufacturer in Paris. His bright ideas bring success for the company but jealousy from his corrupt manager. A chance meeting with an opera singer will change his life forever, and not necessarily for the better. Hand in hand with love are terrible betrayals both artistic and romantic. Love is Blind succeeds not just as a great story but as a social history. Hausmann is building the Paris we recognise today. Social unrest is unfolding across Europe. Old empires are fading away. As the world becomes more known, the old ways must be catalogued before they disappear. Brodie's love causes him to travel the world, never settling for long. Through his eyes we see beautiful sights, and experience depths of emotion. Boyd's superior storytelling keeps us gripped until the end.

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