Love Is Blind by William Boyd

Before you rush to hit the “unsubscribe” button, this is very much a one-off. If you are a regular reader of What Cathy Read, I get a mention now and again as “Hubby”, and come across as basically a man of simple tastes, who is most at ease when hitting something with something else, or even better, sitting on the sofa watching someone else hitting something with something else.

It is not an entirely inaccurate impression.

I’m not a big reader or that big a thinker about what I read, but when Cathy had a mild panic attack half way through an 800 page novel that she might not finish in time to review it and post this month’s blog, I volunteered my services. So rather than “What Cathy Read”, this is “Danny Read Wot?!”

If I find an author I like then I tend to read the whole back catalogue. I like William Boyd.

Love Is Blind was published in 2018. It concerns the travels and love life of a young Scottish piano tuner in the late 19th century. He is very likeable and you are rooting for him from the start. As usual, it is well researched. The intricacies of piano tuning and fly fishing have been gone into…..I like to feel a book has taught me something as well as telling me a story. 

Location changes regularly, again a common feature of Boyd’s work. Equally important for me is plot. The books I like most have resolution at the end (at least partially happy), and a believable way of getting there.

The piano tuner, as you are told on the back cover, is in love with a beautiful Russian singer, the mistress of a famous pianist, his employer.  I must now confess that I’m only half way through the book. So far it could still go either way. To my mind, he’s got transferable skills and she’s not got much of a career anyway, so they could just decide to dump the Virtuoso and head off into the sunset on page 200; if she turns him down, then he has a nice Russian doctor in reserve, who frankly seems a better bet anyway. So, on to the last 170 pages……

…….less than a week later I’m back.

Cathy may have mentioned this in her blog at some point, but when she finds herself getting carried away by a book’s plot and becomes impatient to find out what happens in the end, she simply reads the last few pages to find out, then returns to where she left off.  I think this is the difference between someone who loves to read, and someone who just likes a good story. I’m firmly in the latter category, hence the importance for me of the ending being worth the sprint finish I usually put in to get to it.

This book certainly drew a frenzied tearing through the last 100 pages out of me, but in the end went pretty much where I was expecting without really making me particularly happy or sad.

So, in conclusion.

If you like William Boyd you’ll like this.

If you’re new to his work, read Any Human Heart or Sweet Caress instead.

As it’s only my 3rd book of 2020, then the “one of the best books I’ve read this year” rating should have been easily attainable, however, I preferred Irvine Welsh’s Dead Men’s Trousers and Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End (which I really liked).

So “worth a read” for me.

Cathy will be back next month you will be pleased to hear.

PS Cathy reviewed Days Without End on a previous blog post.

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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