When Blackbirds Sing

Boyd, Martin. When Blackbirds Sing, a Novel. London: Abelard-Schman, 1962.

When Blackbirds Sing is the last installment in the Langton quartet. We rejoin Dominic as he journeys back to war, re-enlisting at the start of World War I. Leaving his wife in Australia to tend to their sheep farm he heads back to England and reconnects with an old flame, Sylvia.
After killing a man and witnessing the atrocities of war Dominic has sobered of all immoral actions and indiscretions. He returns home to Australia a changed man inside and out.
I can honestly say I enjoyed this book much more than the last three (none of which I completely finished). Still, everything about Boyd’s quartet was old and stuffy. The series is supposed to depict the early 1900s but the writing seems older and more staid than that.

Reason read: to finish the series started in April – April being the best time to visit Australia.

Author fact: Boyd was better known for his book Lucinda Brayford.

Book trivia: The jacket cover for When Blackbirds Sing is hideous.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29).


Outbreak of Love

Boyd, Martin. Outbreak of Love. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.

Throughout earlier Boyd books (Cardboard Crown, etc) we have been following the Langton family. In Outbreak of Love we focus on Diana. She has been married for twenty-three long years to egotistical and stuffy musician named “Wolfie.” Wolfie is an adulterer and it’s this unfaithful behavior that brings the drama to the book. Diana, of course, finds out and decides she needs an interesting relationship of her own. Of course there is the requisite high society blah, blah, blah such as who is going to invited to so and so’s ball and have to sit next to the bore.

Quotes that caught me, “Will we have a little love first, or will we go straight out to tea?” Wolfie’s mistress asks. Here’s another, “It shook my egoism, but I was not prepared to abandon reason” (p 53).

Oddly enough, I read this one better than the last two Boyd books. I don’t really know what I meant by that except to say my attention didn’t wander as much.

Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of the best time to go to Australia (March/April).

Author fact: Boyd was born in Switzerland.

Book trivia: This is the third book in the four-book series called The Langton Quartet.

BookLust Twist: Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29). Here’s a laugh – Pearl lists all four books in the quartet but she mixes up the order in which they should be read. She lists When Blackbirds Sing before Outbreak of Love. According to the back cover of Outbreak of Love, When Blackbirds Sing is the last book of the quartet.


A Difficult Young Man

Boyd, Martin. A Difficult Young Man. New York: Penguin, 1984.

I have to admit this story lagged for me. It wasn’t as non-directional as The Cardboard Crown but it still couldn’t hold my attention for long periods of time. Shoot, I couldn’t get through ten pages without straying from the page. A fly crawling along a windowsill could capture my attention faster and hold it longer.
So, right from the start I need to tell you the “difficult young man” of the story is Dominic Langton, grandson of Alice (writer of the journal in The Cardboard Crown). Dominic’s story is being told by his younger brother, Guy. Dominic is indeed difficult and troubled and sort of a loose cannon. He kills a horse, after all. But, it’s also the story of a family who is discontent wherever they are. Bounding between England and Australia, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Interesting lines, “It was difficult to run a house that was being looted” (p 105). good point.

Reason read: to continue the Langton Quartet (in honor of April being a good time to visit Australia).

Author fact: According to Penguin books Boyd had a preoccupation with his family and out of that preoccupation rose the mostly autobiographical Langton Quartet.

Book trivia: This is the second book in the Langton Quartet. It should be read before Outbreak of Love.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Australian Fiction” (p 29).