Love Is Blind by William Boyd review – alchemy of fact and fiction

A piano tuner’s dangerous affair takes on greater resonance in this perfectly pitched performance

William Boyd’s layered and intricate novel begins close to its end point, with a brief prologue in the form of a 1906 letter from a British penal colony in the Bay of Bengal. In it, an American anthropologist called Page Arbogast tells her sister, Amelia, about the recent arrival of a new assistant, “a tall young Scotsman, about thirty-five years old, called Brodie Moncur”.

Exactly what Brodie is doing there is a mystery that will remain unresolved for almost the entire book. It’s a classic example of Boyd getting things off to a propulsive start, and on the surface Love Is Blind has all the hallmarks of a slow-burning thriller – the event-packed story of a single decade in Brodie’s life.

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Carys Davies’ top 10 wilderness books

From Eric Newby’s bliss in the Hindu Kush to Paul Bowles’s Saharan horrors, the novelist shares her favourite visions of unfathomable territory

Sometime towards the end of 2016, I heard on my kitchen radio that astronomers had just discovered there are two trillion galaxies in the universe – 10 times more than previously thought.

I switched off the radio and sat down, practically dizzy – overwhelmed by the unfathomable vastness of it all. A single galaxy, remember, like ours, consists of gravity, planets, and millions or billions of stars. So: another 1,999,999,999,999 of those.

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