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Monday, February 27, 2023



Cashel Greville Ross is a true romantic at heart – whenever he is at a crossroads in his life, his heart always trumps his head.  (Review by Fiona De Goede)

The Romantic by William Boyd is the extraordinary tale of Cashel Greville Ross – according to the author, based on the real life of an actual person. The author came into possession of various objects, such as letters, sketches and maps, as well as smaller bits and pieces like a belt buckle, a lock of brittle hair, a fragment of Greek amphora and so on and this inspired him to write a novel based upon the real life of Ross.

Cashel Greville Ross was born in 1799 – he was told he was an orphan, raised by his aunt Elspeth, a Scotswoman from Dumfries. She was unmarried, in her early thirties and a governess to two young girls in County Cork, Ireland.

When it becomes apparent that the two girls no longer need a governess, Elspeth moves to Oxford in England and the young Cashel, naturally, accompanies her. Life settles down and Cashel, a keen and capable student, settles into a routine of lessons and studying.

His aunt Elspeth reveals a secret to Cashel which changes the way he sees life, himself and his relationship with his aunt. At a very young age he decides to enlist and joins the army, all in an attempt to get away from a life he no longer feels comfortable with, a life he feels does not suit him anymore. This move is in fact the catalyst that shapes his future and paves the way that the rest of his life follows.

Cashel manages to experience and live in many different places, each one an adventure in its own right.  Waterloo, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka, Pisa, Ravenna, Boston, Trieste … his life is a kaleidoscope of colour, characters and choice.

He travels the world as a soldier, a writer, a felon, a farmer, a father and a husband, a lover, an explorer and a good friend. Whilst on this frenetic journey that constitutes his life, he discovers who he is and always stays true to his core values, his true self. Along the way he meets real life characters - poets and explorers of significant historical interest, Byron and Shelley to mention just a couple. He also meets the love of his life, a woman so dear to him that despite the many twists and turns his turbulent life takes him on, he is always true to her – to the very end, to his last breath.

Cashel Greville Ross is a true romantic at heart – whenever he is at a crossroads in his life, his heart always trumps his head.

William Boyd, the author, was born in 1952 in Accra, Ghana. He grew up there and in Nigeria – the son of expatriate Scots from Fife. His first novel, A Good Man in Africa, won the Whitbread First Novel Award as well as the Somerset Maugham Award in 1981. He has written 16 further novels and five collections of stories. – Fiona de Goede 

The Romantic is published by Penguin Randomhouse SA: ISBN 978-0-241-54203-3