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.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you truly love books, if you get excited at the sight of them, the feel of them, the way dusty old tomes smell, then this is the book you have been waiting for.
I was greatly impressed with this novel. Not only has Charlie Lovett managed to incorporate a love of rare books and a good deal of mystery into this novel, but he has also told of a beautiful and enduring love story. Reading this book, I thought of the man I love and adore and how we met. The way books drew these characters together, both in life and in death made me genuinely feel close to them.
This story spans multiple time periods, but does so with grace and precision. Both intriguing and heart warming, this book offered everything a book lover could want.
I was fascinated by the historical ties in this story and excited by each new discovery along the way. The way this author brought to life famous literary icons was not only believable, but thought provoking. His research was excellent, but it was the life–the fire and drive that he gave these characters that was so outstanding.
A lot of unexpected twists in the plot made for exciting reading, coupled with superb dialogue. This was a book that I didn’t want to put down and will happily place on my to be read again shelf.
Book lovers rejoice! This is one like no other.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the publisher as well as a quite complimentary Englishman who bought me the book whilst in London, merely a fabulous coincidence. Thank you, Julian.