THE BOOKMAN’S TALE

6 Jan
Penguin Books/a Penguin Random House Company 2013 Fiction soft cover 352 pages including Acknowledgments, and Author's Note which you will want to read.....

Penguin Books/a Penguin Random House Company 2013
Fiction soft cover 352 pages including Acknowledgments, and Author’s Note which you will want to read…..

This book is somewhat derailing. The chapters toggle between this time and that time. This time being the 20th century, where lives a book antiquarian grieving for his recently departed wife; and that time being the 16th and 17th century wherein the mystery behind the Shakespeare debacle unravels.

I nearly gave-up reading this book because I don’t like being pulled out of character wherein I’m just beginning to feel comfortable. And, I don’t read ‘love’ stories for a reason. Most are sappy, drenching in predictability that invariably elicit an eye roll or two. Well, there are exceptions, of course (The Notebook, and The Bridges of Madison County immediately come to mind). So, having said this, I‘d be remiss if I didn‘t mention that Lovett has managed to slither-in a ‘love’ story, of sorts, within the pages of this book about books.

When Peter Byerly flips through an 18th century study of Shakespeare’s forgeries, a small Victorian watercolor falls out – and catapults Peter into a quest to locate the artist. The miniature painting, though 100 years old, clearly bears a striking resemblance to Peter’s dead wife. In Peter’s search for the artist, he falls into a rather sticky rare find: the *Pandosto. A text, written by Robert Greene in 1588, and said to be the template for Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It has been noted, in The Bookman’s Tale, that within the pages of the Pandosto is the marginalia handwritten by Shakespeare himself.

Weaving historical data throughout his fiction, Lovett gives the book lover a taste of the sublime whilst Peter makes it his mission to find the real William Shakespeare of Stratford.

[Peter] “….. slipped through an open doorway into the back room, where books lined every wall. He closed his eyes for a moment, imaging the cocoon of books shielding him from all danger, inhaling deeply that familiar scent of cloth and leather and dust and words. His rushing pulse began to slow, and when he opened his eyes he scanned the shelves for something familiar-a title, an author, a well-remembered dust jacket design-anything that might ground him in the world of the known.”  page 2

published in 1588

published in 1588

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