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Love is Blind

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It is quite a Scots characteristic – the British Empire was heavily populated by Scots in all corners of the globe. In the past he’s given us, for example, the fictive autobiography of John James Todd in The New Confessions; the fake journal of Logan Mountstuart in Any Human Heart; and the invented life of the artist Nat Tate, in the hoax biography of the same name.

The apparent love between them seemed false and cumbersome, and it was always about when Brodie could get his next sex session. Boyd delineates Brodie's relationship through the years, his travels, the dangers, a man that gambles with his own system. It’s also an early warning, though, one of the many instances in the novel that express the Boydian idea that the course of a life can change in an instant and everything can be lost in a heartbeat. He now carries the Russian fire inside him, and the confrontations are as powerful, as emotional as his time in exile.

It means that he can escape the clutches of his unbearably grotesque, hypocrital and bullying preacher father, Malky.

Brodie is plucked from a dull piano showroom in Edinburgh to lend support at the company's troubled Paris flagship. Alone, with an incurable disease, uncertain about the compass of his life so far, he goes a little crazy, just like one of those crazy Russians in a Dostoyevsky novel. Brodie Moncur, a young man gifted with an extraordinary accurate musical ear, but not enough talent to become a concert pianist, is a resourceful and methodical piano tuner instead.His own three-part adaptation of his novel Armadillo was screened on BBC 1 in 2001 as was his adaptation of his novel Restless (2012). It’s a finely judged performance: a deft and resonant alchemy of fact and fiction, of literary myth and imagination. His talents and his innovative ideas may be his ticket out of a mostly boring Edinburgh career, as his boss decides to send him to their company's Paris office. Exactly what Brodie is doing there is a mystery that will remain unresolved for almost the entire book.

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 ve But then it began to fizzle out as more and more characters disappeared and less and less began to happen. 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. There is nothing revolutionary in William Boyd’s style but it’s always a great pleasure to read his retro novels.

One couldn’t avoid the fact that it was probably not going to end well for poor old Brodie and his rotten lungs. Chekhov, though unnamed, appears in only half a dozen pages of Love is Blind, yet his spirit hovers over nearly all of it. A particular highlight for me was Boyd's skill in making the era come alive with his rich vibrant descriptions.

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