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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

The Bookman's Tale: A mystery, a romance, a murder, a Shakespeare book found...

Did William Shakespeare really write all those plays himself or was it Christopher Marlowe, or someone else? One of literature's enduring speculations is creatively explored by Lovett.

The Bookman's Tale book cover over a stack of books photo

The Booksman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, Charlie Lovett

Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

Published 2013, 347 pages

A good book-about-books story that was well written and informative about antiquarian booksellers and the question surrounding whether Shakespeare actually wrote everything attributed to him. Presented in 3 timelines, one in the 1700-1800s tracing the provenance of a potential Shakespearean book, one in the 1980s following the developing romance between Peter and his eventual wife, and 1995, present day, as Peter gets caught up in the discovery of an old book.

Just for the heck of it, I kept a "reading log" complete with times (that I ultimately decided to leave out) ..... a different way to share a book:

Started Wednesday 10/23

- early in book it's made apparent Peter is wallowing in grief of some kind

- 1980s Peter finds his book passion in college and there are some interesting passages about book repair

"Suddenly he was seeing damaged books everywhere he looked: a frayed spine here, a torn endpaper there. He had thought of books before only as his shield, but now they seemed to be taking on lives of their own, not so much as works of literature or history or poetry, but as objects, collections of paper and thread and cloth and blue and leather and ink."

- third timeline introduced 1592 London; as I was falling asleep I was in the 1990s as a mysterious watercolor painting piques Peter's interest

Thursday 10/24

- 1995: phone call from a man with some books to sell begins to pull Peter from his grief

- Peter falls in love in the 1980s timeline; 1995: mystery deepens as Peter finds possible Shakespeare document

"On the contrary," said Amanda, leaning her head against his shoulder. "I like you because you're extraordinary - but a kind of extraordinary I never knew existed."

Friday 10/25

- calls his mentor in US to track down clues to ownership of potential Shakespeare document

- in the 1700s timeline, the story follows the more twisty path of the document through history. I imagine it to be like tracing the provenance of a piece of art.....who owned it last and how did they acquire it?

- halfway through book: mystery about book deepens, love deepens, 1800s intertwining people is pretty confusing sometimes; as I read a little before bed, it's a nicely developing love story which is nice way to fall asleep

Saturday 10/26

- MURDER in 1995!

- 1986 Peter's wife (Amanda) has emergency surgery with sad results

- in present day, Peter realizes Liz is in danger and rushes to try to save her.... though lots is happening, I couldn't keep my eyes open and all those names were jumbling in my head, so zzzzzzzz

"Over the years his unquestioning childhood acceptance of God grew into a deep and mature faith, nurtured with Amanda at his side. When he lost Amanda, Peter did not lose his belief in God - after all, if he didn't believe, then how could he blame God for what had happened?"

Sunday 10/27

- as I sat down to finish the book, everything rushes to a conclusion, a forger is unmasked, a secret passage discovered, a friendship becomes a possible romance, grief begins to recede, Shakespeare's document explained.

While everything tied up very cleanly, it still left my poor brain struggling to keep all the players straight and really be able to wrap my head around the whole Shakespeare document part. I enjoyed it, I just didn't always "get" it.

"Let it be a monument to foolishness, he thought, an empty tribute to what happens to a man who places money over love, rivalry over integrity, forgery over reality."

I read this book because it's the Modern Mrs Darcy's October book club selection. A good choice!

I shared this review on Eline's review link-up party @ LovelyAudiobooks - visit and see even more book reviews.

#mystery #cozymystery #historicalfiction #lightromance #bookaboutbooks #goodforbookclub #UK #3halfstars (click hashtags for similar books)

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