"What about the most valuable relic in the history of English literaturewould that be worth killing for?"
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.
Ridgefield, North Carolina, 1983
When it opened in 1957, the Robert Ridgefield Library had been the
tallest building in Ridgefield - a nine-story neoclassical behemoth of granite and glass, columns and cornices, with an incongruous cupola perched uncomfortably on top.
The Ridgefields had come to North Carolina from Scotland just after the revolution and had spent the next two centuries going from success to success. A moderately wealthy nineteenth-century merchant family, they had become impressively wealthy in tobacco, then excessively wealthy in textiles, and now obscenely wealthy in banking. Along the way, they had turned a backwater two-year Bible college into the nationally recognized Ridgefield University.
The library had been built atop Ridgefield's highest point - a hill on the edge of campus previously favored by students for late-night trysts. From the upper floors one could view the countryside around Ridgefield for miles- a patchwork of corn and tobacco, clouds of...
Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale is a literary mystery spiced with intrigue and conspiracy. It is also a poignant story about one antiquarian bookseller’s recovery from the loss of his beloved wife. Lovett, himself a former antiquarian bookseller, weaves an engrossing tale that contemplates the influence of literature, the pain of death, and the power of redemption.
(Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Full Review (857 words).
When Peter discovers the watercolor of the woman that resembles his dead wife, he is standing in a bookshop in the small town of Hay-on-Wye, Wales, in the United Kingdom. This town, known as the town of books, has a population of 1,500 but boasts nearly 30 bookstores. Hay-on-Wye is about three to four hours' driving distance from London.
Hay-on-Wye evolved into its current status beginning in the 1960s when a bookseller, Robert Booth, decided to start collecting used books from around the English speaking world and bringing them home. Since then the small Welsh-border town has become a mecca of sorts for book lovers. The stores specialize in second-hand books with some bookstores selling antiquarian books, some specializing in maps, ...
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