Nicholas Shakespeare, Sydney Morning Herald, February 27, 2009. Originally published in The Telegraph.
Byron in Love
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
MY GRANDFATHER, a published poet, believed in his cups that he was the reincarnation of Lord Byron. I thought he had it bad until, during a visit to Albania after the fall of Enver Hoxha, I met a man who had spent 16 years writing a book about Byron's few weeks in his country (the communist censors slashed it to pieces).
"So why another book on Byron?"
To O'Brien, answering her own question, he was "the first and ongoing celebrity" with "a mystery and a magnetism that defy time". Byron In Love is the Irish author's response to the remark that first attracted her to him, made by Lady Blessington, that Byron was "the most extraordinary and terrifying person" she had met.