Title: The Bookman’s Tale
Author: Charlie Lovett
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Books About Books, Adult, British Literature
Published: May 28, 2013
Page Amount: 368 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: 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.
Why Read: It’s a Books About Books Genre would be the first hint as to why I read it. And the second hint is that it had the word ‘book’ in the title, with some backstory of mystery and family drama – it sounded too good to be true! And it wasn’t, because it was mostly absolutely perfect. And I’m in love with it!
Review: Wow. What else is there to say? I’m a sucker for anything that has a potent mixture of books, British history and family drama. So Bookman’s Tale does not disappoint (at least when it comes to me). Peter is a strong lead, his passion for all things written dwarfing all else and moving the plot through rough territory. The historical sections of the novel are surprisingly fun to read and provide the reader a clearer picture of what is happening.
The characters in Bookman are what you would call three-dimensional. Not even one character is purely evil or purely good! I especially appreciated how Peter’s great love had a flaw that they overcame together… although that ended in a not so great manner. The villain also had good moments, and they never called one character solely evil.
The plot was, however, just as great! There were no horrific plot holes that I could spot – and the amount of syncing that was done between Peter’s current life, his past, and the past of the book was absolutely perfect. As you read through the tale of murder and intrigue in the present, it’s obvious as day that it really doesn’t matter which time period you happen to be in – the mystique will be just the same.
Ultimately that is what allowed me to really discover why this book is great for almost anyone to read. Perhaps you don’t like historical fiction, that’s understandable – but the book has more content than a normal historical fiction book. There are thriller-like scenes and a family feud that rivals the Montague and Capulet Problems…. Don’t enjoy mystery? Well that’s not really a problem because the historical portion of the book ultimately clears it up if you can figure it out at least. That is why, with some reservations (because I’m sorry – the whole ghost business that is throughout the book is just strange (spoilers)), I give it a 4.9.
Review Coming Soon: Double Happiness by Tony Brasunus