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A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search—through time and the works of Shakespeare—for his lost love.
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 tantalising 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 watercolour 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.
‘This is the book for all book lovers…’ Listen to a fantastic review on Radio NZ.
‘A marvellous new Shakespearean mystery: an intelligent thriller that is also a love song for books and the people who relish them. Lovett knows his stuff about Shakespeare, rare books, and the passions that both inspire, and he weaves from these a delicious tale of love, loss, and the thrill of discovery… The only disappointment was that it came to an end.’
‘With The Bookman’s Tale, Charlie Lovett tells us a terrific story — there’s mystery and suspense, murder and seduction — but more importantly, he shows us how it’s all connected, all of this: the reading and the keeping and the sharing of books. It forms a chain long and strange enough to tie a heartbroken young scholar from North Carolina back to the Bard himself, who might or might not have been William Shakespeare. Every link along the way is a bookman’s tale all its own, and Lovett tells them all, except the very last, of course: because that’s you, about to read this book right now.’
‘a gripping literary mystery that is compulsively readable until the thrilling end.’
‘For bibliophiles everywhere, this is a joyous mystery from the present day to Victorian England and back to Shakespearean England. Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale is about the thrill of the chase, obsession, love, passion and the joy of discovery.’
‘Fans of mysteries, of love stories, and of rare books will all find moments in Lovett’s novel to treasure.’
‘Lovett’s obvious love of books and deep understanding of the world of antiquarian bookselling and restoration is something that not only enriches Peter’s character but provides a point of strong interest for anyone interested in how books are constructed and repaired…The Bookman’s Tale is rooted in literary scholarship, full of fun gossip and historical play that makes the short chapters read very quickly and easily. Peter’s healing develops naturally through the chapters, and ultimately makes The Bookman’s Tale an immensely satisfying and pleasurable read that combines a range of genres and above all else, celebrates the beauty and wonder of the literary word.’
‘Author Charlie Lovett meticulously merges love, despair and mystery in this enchanting ode to literature.’
‘This book has it all: antiquarian books, deceit, love, murder, passion, Shakespeare, death…and (spoiler alert) a secret passage. What more could you ask for?’
‘The Bookman’s Tale is a homage to antiquarian book collectors, a journey in grief, a whodunnit and more rolled into one.’
‘One has to admire the author’s audacity in how he fits in dastardly Victorians, Dickensian maidens, present-day outspoken American women, stereotypical British gents and families of vast fortune…It tells a great mystery and is hard to put down.’
‘Author Charlie Lovett, a former antiquarian bookseller himself, dives effortlessly between centuries and characters as he tells the story of the portrait, and though this novel has a love story at its heart, it develops into an extremely well-plotted thriller. Highly recommended.’
‘The world of the antiquarian bookseller is rife with passions and obsessions, and Charlie Lovett, himself a former antiquarian book dealer, is well placed to put together a detailed plot that stretches all the way back through an elaborate tale of 19th-century forgery to the 16th century and life of Shakespeare…an intriguing tale.’