Book Review: The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

Published: 2013 by Wheeler Books

Pages: 556

Rating: 5/5

Sypnosis From Goodreads:

A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love.

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.
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.
My Thoughts:

Oh golly gosh. This book just instantly warmed my heart and the backstory kinda shattered it at the same time. This was fascinating, illuminating and so richly written, even through the early stages of the book, I knew I had discovered a favourite. 

The character has my dream job; an antique bookseller. Peter was such a lovely protagonist, and he was never dull and I loved reading about his student days and his first meeting with the woman that would soon become his late wife. 

What made this book so endearing was that it was a book for book lovers; and I felt like I was in the bookstore and libraries where it was set. I could almost smell the musty pages and feel the covers of those beautiful old volumes. 

This also focuses on Shakespeare, with the main character Peter, discovering a volume of Shakespeare forgeries, which leads to the eternal question; did Shakespeare write his own work? I loved the constant debate throughout and the references to who might have actually written those plays, Sonnets and poems. 

The mystery was so rich too, Peter discovers within this book, a portrait of a lady who bares an uncanny resemblance to his beloved late wife, Amanda. Even until the end, I was itching to find out who this woman was. 

The time jump between Peter’s time with Amanda, from their first meeting, wedding and her death (which was so tragic), to Peter in the present day, to London in 1609 onwards, the writing was never dull and it combined murder, intrigue, secret tunnels and a love story; it made for a truly remarkable and memorable reading experience. 

Favourite quotes:

“That must be something to discover a book that nobody’s ever heard of or everybody thought was lost.”

“It’s every bibliophile’s dream,” said Francis, and Peter knew in a second that it was his own.” 

“The best way to learn about books,” he said, “is to spend time with them, talk about them, defend them.” 


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