Love is Blind
Towards the back end of the 19thcentury Brodie Moncur is working as a piano-tuner in Edinburgh. The firm he is working for have a piano showroom in Paris, but business is slow, and Brodie is offered the opportunity to relocate to the French capital to try and improve their fortunes. He jumps at the chance and hits upon the idea of sponsoring one of the world’s great pianists – in this case John Kilbarron, dubbed the “Irish Liszt”. It turns out that the Irishman is difficult to work with – his hard-drinking doesn’t help – and things are further complicated when Brodie falls for his girlfriend, a singer called Lika. William Boyd’s latest is another one of his engrossing and globe-trotting capers that takes in firebrand Scottish preachers, duels fought at daybreak in Russia, and a (unacknowledged) cameo appearance from Anton Chekhov. It’s also a revenge thriller, a treatise on artistic endeavour, and a travelogue, but, at heart, it’s a love story that is played out against a rapidly changing backdrop, the 19thcentury giving way to the 20th.