To celebrate the publication today (September 20) of his new novel Love is Blind and his imminent appearance at the Marlborough LitFest, we asked William Boyd to offer a list of suggested reading on the themes and places which appear in the book – and he kindly obliged.
In his latest novel William Boyd draws once more on the themes he has made his own: of love, of the Scottish diaspora, of the response of ordinary people to extraordinary circumstances.
In this historical romance Brodie Moncur, a piano-tuner, travels through Scotland, France and Russia in the early years of the Twentieth Century, meeting and working with musicians, intellectuals, anthropologists – and the love of his life.
The novel is brilliantly evocative of character and place – clever, though not off-puttingly so. One of its pleasures lies in identifying the range of other works which have inspired this humane, intelligent and kind narrative, and to which he playfully refers – though if the reader misses the allusions it in no way hinders the enjoyment of this novel.
Robert Louis Stevenson THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE
Perhaps the least read of RLS’s ‘Scottish’ novels but it tackles Scottish myths head-on.
James Hogg CONFESSIONS OF A JUSTIFIED SINNER
The strangest classic Scottish novel. Set the bar high for demonic possession.
Anton Chekhov COLLECTED STORIES
The greatest short story writer ever. A direct route to the Russian mind.
Vladimir Nabokov THE GIFT
A brilliant novel about Russian intellectuals.
Turgenyev FATHERS AND SONS
A masterpiece of Nineteenth Century Russian literature.
Andrei Bely PETERSBURG
The great novel about Russia’s most mesmerising city.
Alfred Brendel A PIANIST’s A –Z
A great pianist’s charming musings on his life and work.
William Gerhardie FUTILITY
A brilliant novel. An Englishman’s exploration of the Russian mind.
Haruki Murakami ABSOLUTELY ON MUSIC
Murukami in conversation with Seiji Ozama. Fascinating.
J M Coetzee THE MASTER OF ST PETERSBURG
Coetzee’s fascinating take on Dostoevsky and his city.
Charles Rosen PIANO NOTES
Wonderfully intelligent analyses of the classical music world.
Anthony Storr MUSIC AND THE MIND
A psychiatrist looks at how music works on us.
Donald Rayfield CHEKHOV — A LIFE
The magisterial, unsurpassable biography of Chekhov. Wholly compelling and revelatory.
Claire Harman ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
RLS — possibly Scotland’s greatest and most influential writer.
Catriona Kelly ST PETERSBURG
A stunning history of this stunning city.
All the titles are on show at The White Horse Bookshop. Where you can also buy tickets for William Boyd’s talk on Saturday, September 29 at 7.45pm in the Memorial Hall at the College.
The photo of William Boyd above is © Trevor Leighton
Marlborough LitFest tickets are available: in person at The White Horse Bookshop, Marlborough High Street (cash or cheque only – from 9am). By phone to Pound Arts – 01249 701628 or 01249 712618 (from 10am). And online at Pound Arts