I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
I just devoured Charlie Lovett's new book, THE BOOKMAN'S TALE. I am always drawn to literary mysteries. Especially when they involve books. These types of tales aren't always successful, though. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.
Peter Bylerly, an antiquarian bookseller, is still reeling from the sudden death of his wife Amanda. He escapes to the English countryside to try and work through his grief while re-establishing his career. As Peter browses through some titles at a local bookstore, a Victorian watercolor portrait falls out of a book about Shakespeare forgeries. The portait looks just like Amanda. Peter becomes obsessed with finding the origins of the mysterious portrait. As he does so, he becomes caught up in a game of forgery and the potential discovery of a lifetime regarding William Shakespeare.
I loved how Lovett not only gave us a wonderful portrait of a grieving widower trying to lose himself in his old interests but also interweaves the tale of the various owners of what may or may not be the Holy Grail of Shakespeare scholarship. We follow the book's progress through various owners over time as, in the present day, Peter works to uncover its origins and to decide whether or not the book is a fake. In some ways, this novel reminded me of PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks. It made me want to run out and take a few courses on bookbinding and book restoration. The pacing of the book was really well done and the story was entertaining. While the climax was slightly cheesy, it didn't deter from my enjoyment at all.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A great read for bibliophiles. Perfect for Summer vacation.
And the random number generator selected comment #2. Congrats to Genevieve!