“Love is Blind” by William Boyd – the main character is a piano tuner !

I have a love hate relationship with William Boyd’s books. I adored Every Human Heart which I think is an exceptional novel and I’ve read a few more which veered from pretty good to pretty awful – on my opinion. He chooses very varied themes and settings for his stories which may be why I find them variable. Love is Blind is possibly not one of the best but I found it intriguing to start with because the main character is a piano tuner – I hadn’t read a book before where that was the case and I can’t think that there are many of them out there.

The main character is Brodie who comes from a difficult home in Edinburgh during the early part of the twentieth century. He escapes from his home country to Paris where he becomes involved with a piano virtuoso and his entourage including Lika with whom he has a tempestuous love affair. Things get difficult and there is even a duel and, in the end, Brodie is sick and abandoned by family and friends. It’s not the sadness of what happens to Brodie that I didn’t enjoy but the fact that for most of the book he is out of his depth and hasn’t a clue what is happening – he is very passive and things tend to happen to him rather than him making things happen.

I learned a lot about piano tuning which was interesting and also of the world of music at the time. This wasn’t a terrible book but it failed to engage me because I kept wanting Brodie to wake up and take control of what was happening. I also found the interludes with his family didn’t seem to link with what was happening in the rest of Brodie’s life. The ending is weird and definitely not what I had expected from the rest of the book but I actually thought that it worked well.

I do think that it is worth reading some books by William Boyd but I wouldn’t start here. Sweet Caress is similar to Any Human Heart but they are both long reads. Try An Ice-Cream War, Reckless or An Ordinary Thunderstorm – they are all very different but I enjoyed them.