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Love is Blind

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Opening in the late nineteenth century and moving through to the early years of the twentieth century, Love is Blind is a touching novel that follows the life events of a young man from Scotland, who finds fortune and love in his travels across the globe. 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. That entirely fictitious set-up – along with Moncur’s love for Kilbarron’s mistress, Lika Blum, and an ingenious musical subplot – forms the core of the new book.

This ultimately sets the tone for the last third of the book which becomes a paranoia- laden thriller. He seems to get entangled with and taken advantage of by unpleasant people with some regularity – although he sees through them, his desire to earn money and not give in seems to lead him to a sort of stasis. Moving from Edinburgh in 1894 to the far-flung Andaman Islands in 1906, and smoothly landing in various European cities in between, Boyd’s affecting novel follows a young Scotsman’s ardent pursuit of a woman and its treacherous consequences . Our guide for the duration of Love is Blind is a young man who hails from Scotland named Brodie Moncur. But a chance meeting with a talented musician sends Brodie in a downward spiral, defining his life for years to come.

The main character, a piano tuner from Scotland, is one of the most sympathetic hero’s in literature. The descriptions are delightful, accurate both in their detail and in their relaying of historical events of the time. 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. Brodie Moncur, has a special gift as a piano tuner, so any music lover will find a bonus, reading about how Brodie honed his craft and used it to help pianists produce beautiful music.

this book offers a fascinating insight into how the instrument works and it also plays with the trope of tortured artistic souls albeit the elements that may seem half-familiar from the lives of genuine classical composers and performers are amplified in the case of the monstrous Kilbarron - if you like, he is John Field gone bad! I played a simple martingale system: doubling my stake (2 fr) when I lost and pocketing my winnings when I won. 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.They are: A Good Man in Africa (1981, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize) An Ice Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), The New Confessions (1987), Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize) The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner of the 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, 1995), Armadillo (1998) and Any Human Heart (2002, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet). But life without Lika isn't really life, and Brodie is still young and impetuous, and more than a little naive.

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