An all consuming story of Cashel Greville Ross, a fictional character who is a beguiling explorer of life, distracted only (and very frequently) by love. Set in the nineteenth century at a time when travel was for the adventurous, the swashbuckling gambler and the hardy romantic.
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BY WILLIAM BOYD
‘The Romantic’ by William Boyd is the all consuming story of Cashel Greville Ross who is born into the nineteenth century at a time when travel was for the adventurous, the swashbuckling gambler and the hardy romantic. Boyd’s fictional hero, Cashel is a beguiling explorer of life, distracted only (and very frequently) by love!
Cashel Greville Ross’s life begins in County Cork, Ireland who we are led to believe is an orphaned nephew to a young governess. It soon becomes apparent this is not the case when his aunt, Elspeth Soutar, leaves her position to start a new life with Cashel in England. She is also pregnant with twins and Cashel, now a young teenager and scholar is instructed to call her mother, not aunt and take on a new family name as part of their mysterious new beginnings. Cashel is curious and unlocks a disturbing secret resulting in an impulsive decision to leave home and enlist as an army drummer boy. Before long, his regiment is drafted to France and actively engaged on the battlefield at Waterloo (1815).
From here, Cashel’s taste for life abroad and travel is his destiny taking him to India and Sri Lanka and then back to Europe where he decides to write a book about his experiences as a traveller in Europe. Along the way, Cashel falls in love in and out of love with the unobtainable as well as potential life partners. The reader is entrapped in Cashel’s world as he travels to America ’the land of the free’, diversifying his talents on his new farmstead.
Boyd cleverly interweaves historical events into his hero's life, taking an active part rather than just bumping into history! Cashel as an adventurer finds himself wandering from Zanzibar to Africa in search of the source of the Nile. His enthusiasm for travel in a century of great historical discoveries makes this an addictive read and the Den enjoyed his stories of stolen relics smuggled between empires. Book clubbers will enjoy the humorous touch of Boyd’s writing style. Cashel though generally optimistic is a flawed loveable character who follows his heart as he travels the world, sometimes in pursuit of love and sometimes just for survival, making it easy to be swept away by his gentle joie de vivre.
Literary lovers will also appreciate the younger Cashel who as a writer makes acquaintance with Mary Shelley and Lord Byron during his stay in Italy. A wow read for Boyd fans and definitely a fun novel for February.