Every time I start a William Boyd book, I get a frisson of excitement. He is, there is no doubt, one of my favourite authors.
Love is Blind is the story of Brodie Moncur, a young man who is a piano tuner based in Edinburgh. When his employer asks him to manage his piano store in Paris, Brodie is faced with a challenge that he embraces, making a reputation for himself as a man of great skill in his field. This expansion of his world brings him into contact with the pianist, John Kilbarron and his lover, Lika, with whom Brodie instantly falls in love.
Brodie is a likeable character and Boyd shows his progression from a weaker man to one keen to confront his demons and take charge: from his relationship with his overbearing father to his fear for Kilbarron’s brother, Malachi and his threatening air of menace. His love for Lika verges on the obsessive but Boyd keeps Brodie’s perspective balanced; Brodie does things that indicate that he may be heading to a place where he is out of control but he always has the presence of mind and self-preservation to rectify his behaviour and perspective. However, there is a sense that he is a little naïve when it comes to his attraction for Lika and that his judgement, whilst usually more astute, is clouded somewhat by his desire, suggested in the title.
To describe what happens between the key characters would reveal too much of the plot and that is part of the pleasure of reading Boyd – the way that his books develop so deftly; they really are a joy. But not only that, his dialogue, his creation of place, his knowledge of the world which lend his novels a colonial vibe, his complex characters: they all serve to make his books a vivid read and this one is no exception.
Any book that has you thinking “Just one chapter more” is a good thing and Boyd’s later books have all been like that for me. They are always what I would call “strong reads” where you are fully immersed in the world he creates. They are never halting but flow, paced and fluid. They are not always places where you feel secure as Boyd’s books often have a thread of darkness within them but Boyd is a reliable guide, experienced and skilled.
I would recommend.