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The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsessionby Charlie Lovett
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Lovett's debut is a century-spanning web of literary mystery that ensnares American Peter Byerly, a rare bookseller. Living abroad in the months after the death of his wife Amanda, Peter is mystified to discover a watercolor uncannily resembling her — especially since it's from the Victorian era. Vowing to learn more about the obscure artist — 'B.B.' — Peter stumbles into the argument about the authorship of Shakespeare's work, which might contain a link to the mysterious painter. 'The mystery of the watercolor's origins felt deeply personal and Peter could already feel curiosity and grief melding into obsession.' Lovett's novel skips in time to various periods in Peter's life, and even before it, extending as far back as 1592 when Shakespeare and his cohorts haunted taverns, and to 1879 when folios of his plays became prized possessions. As Peter continues his sleuthing, he finds himself a potential suspect in a murder investigation and a 'hundred-and-thirty-year-old scandal' with 'the most valuable relic in the history of English literature' at its core. Although the discussion of the provenance of Shakespeare's plays will appeal to bibliophiles, the frequent flashbacks to bygone days interrupt the narrative flow. In addition, the characters' dialogue, while full of passion for letters, is wooden and uninspired. Agent: David Gernert, the Gernert Agency. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“With The Bookman's Tale, Charlie Lovett tells us a terrific story — there's mystery and suspense, murder and seduction — but more important, he shows us how its all connected, all of this: the reading and the keeping and the sharing of books. It forms a chain long and strange enough to tie a heartbroken young scholar from North Carolina back to the Bard himself, who might or might not have been William Shakespeare. Every link along the way is a bookman's tale all its own, and Lovett tells them all, except the very last, of course: because that's you, about to read this book right now.” Robin Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
“Lovett's novel, The Bookman's Tale, is a marvelous new Shakespearean mystery: an intelligent thriller that is also a love song for books and the people who relish them. Lovett knows his stuff about Shakespeare, rare books, and the passions that both inspire, and he weaves from these a delicious tale of love, loss, and the thrill of discovery. It kept me turning pages till the wee hours for days. The only disappointment was that it came to an end.” Jennifer Lee Carrell, author of Interred with Their Bones
“A gripping literary mystery that is compulsively readable until the thrilling end. For fans of Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book, Shakespeare aficionados, and bibliophiles.” Library Journal (Starred)
“A pleasurably escapist trans-Atlantic mystery is intricately layered with plots, murders, feuds, romances, forgeries — and antiquarian book dealing.” Kirkus
“Fans of mysteries, of love stories, and of rare books will all find moments in Lovett's novel to treasure.” Booklist
“I don't read much fiction. I'm picky. But I loved racing through Charlie Lovett's The Bookman's Tale, a richly rewarding thriller filled with real-world details about the discovery of a rare book that may or may not be a priceless Shakespearean artifact. Fun for everyone who's ever fondled a soft leather binding!” Daniel Singer, founder, Reduced Shakespeare Company and co-author of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
“The Bard is back in this rollicking literary mystery….This novel has something for everyone: William Shakespeare, a love story, murder and even a secret tunnel.” Star Tribune
“A Bookman's Tale has plenty of richness to offer….Daring intricacy.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A treat.” New York Journal of Books
“All too good to resist….The Bookman's Tale is a book about books, written for lovers of books.” The Fayetteville Observer
“Roguish booksellers, feuding nobles and unexpected plot twists.” The Asheville Citizen-Times
“[A] charismatic tale about the rare book world and history come to life….Like a gigantic hug to all book lovers.” MinnesotaReads.com
"[A]n immensely satisfying and pleasurable read that combines a range of genres and above all else, celebrates the beauty and wonder of the literary word." SeattlePI.com
"Lovett's tale sparkles with seasoned storytelling." The Mountain Times
About the Author
Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright, whose plays for children have been seen in more than 3,000 productions. He is a former antiquarian bookseller and an avid book collector. He and his wife, Janice, split their time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Kingham, Oxfordshire, in England.
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