The Bookman’s Tale
A Novel of Obsession
Due to publish late May, by Viking
Meet Peter Byerly. A somewhat reclusive antiquarian bookseller who has left America behind to spend his time in the English countryside after the death of his wife. Devastated by the loss of Amanda, a woman who drew Peter out of his shell and into the world, he finds himself sliding back among his books unable to cope without her. However nothing, not even Amanda, could have prepared him for what was about to happen. Visiting an antique bookshop Peter finds himself stunned while browsing an eighteenth century book on the forgeries of William Shakespeare, as a water color portrait, that bears a striking resemblance to Amanda tumbles from the pages. Being a Victorian piece logic dictates this cannot be the woman he tragically lost such a short time ago. However the resemblance is uncanny and Peter sets off to learn more.
In an obsessive quest to learn the identity of the woman in the painting. Peter is forced to step out of his self created shell, with the spirit of Amanda ever present encouraging him to move forward. It’s a journey which leads him back through time to Shakespeare and to a book which may finally prove that the legendary man from Stratford-on-Avon truly did write his own plays. Peter’s journey also forces him to reflect on his own life, and he makes many discoveries along the way. But has he learned too much? And will one of the worlds longest standing mysteries finally be solved?
WOW! Ok…So I loved this one!
When shopping for a novel, have you ever picked one up and thought “Yup! This is going to be great!” That is the reaction I had to this novel from the moment I received it in the mail and read the back cover. Happy to say, Mr. Lovett did not disappoint.
The novels main focus is on Peter, an antiquarian bookseller, who has lost his wife a few months prior to the opening pages. To say that Peter is socially inept would be an understatement, as he seems to struggle with even the easiest of human interactions. But that was not the case with Amanda, who from day one was able to draw him out and into the world. Peter discovers himself doing things that he’d have never thought possible without her. It’s the story of Peter and Amanda that captures the heart of the reader, a couple that Amanda refers to as “nuts and bolts“. There are several scenes in the book where Peter interacts with Amanda on a spiritual level, that highlight the special and unique bond these two shared. Peter’s journey shows the reader the weaker and stronger parts of his character, and speaks to overcoming ones flaws even at ones weakest. Peter is wonderfully written and one gets the feeling book lovers around the world will take an instant liking to him.
The other main focus of this piece is the mystery behind Shakespeare’s plays, and the long standing question of whether the plays were truly written by the legendary man from Stratford-on-Avon. Lovett, does an incredible job of taking the reader through time as the mystery unfolds. The characters he brings to life on the page help to build a stunning tale; a personal favourite for this reader was the use of real historical figures such as Christopher Marlowe, playwright and of course Shakespeare himself. The author’s firsthand knowledge of the antique book business is paramount to this story and shines as he lays out details of the business, the history of the book, and gives the reader the needed foundation to be able to sit back and enjoy the ride.
It becomes evident as you read The Bookman’s Tale, that Lovett has a passion for books, and is able with ease to weave that passion into a believable and fascinating story that made this reader want to read the last word only to turn back to page one to enjoy it a second time….and a third time….
A+ – Top shelf Book!
This one screams to be made into a movie. Remember where you read that when you are buying the popcorn on opening night!
Born in Winston-Salem NC, USA 1962, Lovett attended Davidson College and in 1984 went into the antiquarian book business. In 1997 he received his MFA in writing from Vermont College (now Vermont College of Fine Arts). Lovett has written several books including 11 non fiction works. The Bookman’s Tale is his breakthrough novel and he is currently working on two projects, one of which promises to do for Jane Austen what this novel did for Shakespeare. More can be found on his site http://charlielovett.com
Two final notes:
There are a few books, authors and playwrights mentioned throughout this novel. If you have time and inclination it is always a bonus to check some of them out.
The novel is due out in stores shortly. Once you’ve read your copy, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.