You always wonder how someone is going to start a book and Markovits uses a prologue as a springboard to establish that the story that follows has been written by a mysterious English teacher that he once worked with. The teacher was an impostor using a name based on several literary characters but he was also a Byron fan and dies leaving the papers that go to make up the story that follows.
Bullet points from chapters one to three
* Things start with the publication of an anonymous story – The Vampyre – that was believed to have been written by Byron and published in a London magazine. The copies sell fast and the offices are crowded with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the great poet
* But the character that does turn up to pound on the door when the shop has closed, and is mistaken for Byron, is a doctor who travelled on the continent with the literary star and you are led to believe, from what he mutters to himself in the rain, the real author of the story
* Polidori (known as Polly because of his position in a house full of sisters) starts his story going over the original offer he had to travel with Byron and the resistance that came to the idea from his father, who thought it would only lead to trouble and disappointment
* But the young man, who seems to have no other prospects, is determined to take the position as Byron’s travelling physican and so goes against his father’s wishes and agrees to go and in the end he is alongside Byron as he bids farewell to his sister and sets off for Europe
* As he stands outside the publication house a young woman, Eliza, comes up and introduces herself mistaking the doctor for Byron and says that she met him at a ball and gets out of Pilodori the details of where he is staying in London before leaving him
* Eliza is then fleshed out in more detail with the truth being that she didn’t go to the ball her sister did but she is full of romantic stories written in books by the likes of Byron and longs to exchange her fictional knowledge of men and love for the real thing