Suzi Feay

Explorer, author, soldier, lover: The Romantic, by William Boyd, reviewed

Boyd’s intrepid hero is present at Waterloo, befriends Byron and Shelley, and even beats the Burton-Speke expedition to discover the source of the Nile

The Battle of Waterloo –one of many real-life scenarios in which William Boyd’s fictional hero finds himself. [Getty Images]

William Boyd taps into the classical novel tradition with this sweeping tale of one man’s century-spanning life, even to the extent of providing the accustomed framing device: the chance discovery of a cache of papers and mementoes. The items listed by ‘WB’ in his ‘Author’s Note’ – a musket ball, a fragment of a Greek amphora, a crinkly lock of hair – all find their place in the tale of this 19th-century adventurer, lover, traveller and author.

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