I have read Sweet Caress, and Any Human Heart, so I think I can say I am a bit of a William Boyd fan. I was keen to get hold of this one when I saw it at Dymocks. It was even on the long list for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (and I do like historical fiction)
Here’s the blurb …
Set in the 19th century, The Romantic is the story of life itself. Following the roller-coaster fortunes of a man as he tries to negotiate the random stages, adventures and vicissitudes of his existence, from being a soldier to a pawnbroker, from being a jailbird to a gigolo to a diplomat – this is an intimate yet sweeping epic.
We follow the life of Cashel Greville Rosse, from his Irish early childhood, to suburban Oxford, the army (and of course Waterloo), India, Europe (where he meets Shelley and Byron), Africa (to find the source of the Nile), America (where he farms and starts a brewing company)A and back to Europe. It’s quite the ride.
I did enjoy this novel, but it’s not my favourite Boyd novel – that would be Any Human Heart. I felt this one was a bit long and could have done with some editing. It is, however, beautifully written and well-researched (without the research being obvious). Cashel was a sympathetic character and I wanted everything to work out for him.