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.
“With THE BOOKMANS TALE, Charlie Lovett tells us a terrific story—theres 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 bookmans tale all its own, and Lovett tells them all, except the very last, of course: because thats you, about to read this book right now.”—Robin Sloan, New York Times
bestselling author of Mr. Penumbras 24-Hour Bookstore
“Lovetts novel, THE BOOKMANS 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
“Lovett tells his story with ease, charm and a faith in his characters that eventually draws them into our sympathies.”—USA Today
“[A] delightful tale of love and bibliophilia.”—Parade
“[A] suspenseful romp spanning centuries and continents and peppered with romance, skulduggery, forgery and murder, all driven by one of the enduring questions of literary scholarship.”—Washington Post
“. . .A gripping literary mystery that is compulsively readable until the thrilling end. For fans of Geraldine Brookss 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 Lovetts 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
“Da Vinci Code-like sleuthing into the works of Shakespeare and sliding back to the bards time.”—Library Journal
“A Bookmans 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 Bookmans 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 plesurable 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
“The Bookmans Tale is three stories in one…and Charlie Lovett moves deftly….You cant stop reading until you find out what happens.”—Charleston Post and Courier
“A delightful novel.”
“[A] thrilling romance.”
—Womans Day, “WD Picks”
“A charming story.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Part mystery, part love story, First Impressions is a 100 percent thumping good read and a loving homage to one of literatures most beloved authors. Lovett takes readers on a rollicking adventure that cleverly weaves in the best elements of Austens novels, while also giving life to Austens own personal history in a satisfying and captivating way. Its a giddy novel that celebrates books and the people who love them as much as it entertains, making it the perfect read for bookworms and Janeites alike.”
“A completely captivating and charming book….the authors passion for Jane Austen and his knowledge of printing methods and practices of the 1700s truly make this book a standout. The reader gets a nice adventure story, a little bit of romance and mystery, and a real feel for book collecting and for the authors love of Jane Austen. If its a love you share, you may well find this book irresistible.”
“This novel is both beautiful and exciting….A must-read, especially for those who love books, writing and reading!”
—Historical Novels Review
“Fans of Austen will devour the backstory. . . . Lovers of intrigue and romance will relish the presentday journey. . . . Bibliophiles will savor the interconnectedness of both stories. . . . First Impressions is an Austen appetizer—leaving the reader eager to explore or revisit works that have touched us for more than two centuries.”
—The Mountain Times
“A book about books . . . an intriguing story [about] an author whose stories have not lost their romantic appeal in two hundred years.”
“[An] ingenious novel….Ardent fans of Jane Austen and lovers of gripping stories will enjoy following Sophies pursuit of the truth.”
“[An] appealing combination of mystery, romance, and bibliophilism….An absolute must for Austen fans, a pleasure for others.”
“A delightful read that Janeites will love….[Lovett] adds bookish intrigue to the life of another luminary of English literature.”
“Lovetts tale is a lovely and entertaining one…that lovers of Austen and antiquarian books will adore.”
“Lovetts love of books and libraries once again energizes his storytelling.”
“Charlie Lovetts delightful First Impressions weaves together two stories: one about a modern young woman who loves books and the other about the friendship between nineteenth-century novelist Jane Austen and a clergyman. The result is an inventive tale with elements of romance and suspense, wrapped around a bookish mystery that will please lovers of old libraries and Austen fans.”
—Deborah Harkness, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Life
“Jane Austen, true love, great books, and a literary mystery of epic proportions: Charlie Lovett packs all my favorite things into a thoroughly engaging story that keeps us enthralled to the very last page. Austen herself would adore the counter-point heroine, the bright and delightful Sophie Collingwood. A pure gem.”
—Katherine Reay, author of Dear Mr. Knightley
“Brimming with charm and intrigue, Charlie Lovetts new novel will leave a lasting impression on lovers of books, literary enigmas, and the eternally fascinating Jane Austen. First Impressions spans centuries, but time ceases to exist as Lovetts riveting story begins to unfold.”
—Erika Robuck, author of Hemingways Girl
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in want of a marvelous mystery and lovely literary fiction must be in want of First Impressions. With a deep understanding of Jane Austen and a deft hand at mystery, Lovett strikes the perfect chord between literature and a first rate thriller.”
—Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis of A&Es hit series Longmire
A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from theNew York Times bestselling author ofThe Bookman s Tale
Charlie Lovett's newest bookThe Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scroogeis now available from Viking
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customersrequest a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition ofALittle Book of Allegoriesby Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophieinto a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship ofPride and Prejudice andultimately threatenSophie s life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie s quest to uncover the truth while choosing between two suitors and a young Jane Austen s touching friendship withthe aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books."
A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Timesbestselling author of The Bookmans Tale
Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Timesbestselling debut, The Bookmans Tale. Now Lovett is back with another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literatures most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.
Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of A Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudiceand ultimately threaten Sophies life.
In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophies quest to uncover the truthwhile choosing between two suitorsand a young Jane Austens touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
About the Author
is a writer, teacher, and playwright whose plays for children have been seen in more than three thousand productions worldwide. He served for more than a decade as writer in residence at Summit School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is a former antiquarian bookseller, and he has collected rare books and other materials related to Lewis Carroll for more than twenty-five years. He and his wife, Janice, split their time between Winston-Salem and Kingham, Oxfordshire.