Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

Title:  The Bookman's Tale: a novel of obsession

Author: Charlie Lovett 
Publisher:  May 27th 2014 by Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780143125389
Pages:  368 pages
How I Read It: eARC
Genre: historical fiction, romance, mystery

A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt's Possession.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

Our thoughts:

“Peter took a breath, then the plunge.
“What about the most valuable relic in the history of English literature—would that be worth killing for?”
“How valuable?”
“And where is this relic?” said Liz.
“In the backseat of your car,” said Peter.”

The Bookman’s Tale is a story that is very well put together. It covers art and literary history, with a sad romantic tale and a twist of mystery. Alternating between Shakespeare’s time, the Victorian Era, and the modern day, the author relates the heartwarming tale of a widower’s return to the world of the living and the magical power of books.

“He knew this book. If not an old friend, it was certainly an acquaintance, and the prospect of spending a few minutes between its covers calmed his nerves .... He was calm now—all sense of dread and panic banished by the simple act of losing himself in an old book.”

If you enjoy mysteries, old books…restored books…forged books, the historical controversy about the accuracy of Shakespeare's authorship and a love story, you should find Lovett’s tale an engaging one that will keep you turning pages, eager to see how it all unfolds. We loved how the story took place in different time periods and found it surprisingly easy to follow. The story was well researched and full of the most interesting historical detail. So grab a cup of tea and lose yourself in the story that is “The Bookman’s Tale”:

“And he had an intense vision of a crackling fire in the grate, a cup of tea in his hand, and Amanda reading a good book on a damp winter day. It was as seductive as anything he had ever imagined.”

Our Rating:

1 comment:

  1. Your review is definitely intriguing! I have to add this to my to read list! Thanks ladies!