Friday, May 13, 2016

FFB: The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession -- Charlie Lovett

The Bookman's Tale hit home with me for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it's about book collecting and restoring old books and book forgery, all of which I find fascinating.  It's also about the search for the  Holy Grail of book collecting, an original Shakespeare manuscript.

The subtitle refers to more than book collecting, however.  The protagonist, an American named Peter Byerley, since the death of his wife, has lived an isolated life in England.  One day he finds a portrait of a woman who looks exactly like her stuck in a book in a small English bookshop.  He becomes obsessed with finding out who the woman was, and this is what leads him to his other search.

The sections about Byerley alternate with sections set in Shakespeare's time and afterwards, and in those we learn about the manuscript and its various owners through the years.  These sections don't slow down the narrative, or not for me.  They added a good bit of interest.

Throw in murder, secret passages, tombs, and a bit of romance, and you have a winner.  I quite enjoyed this one.

16 comments:

Dan said...

I'll look for it.

One thing struck me as I scrolled down from the header on your website to this cover:

What does an author have to do to get his name above the title on a book cover?

Bill Crider said...

I think it depends more on the cover designer than anything.

George said...

THE BOOKMAN'S TALE sounds like my kind of book. I'll track down a copy!

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Don't know it but it sounds good. I can see why it appealed to you.

Richard Robinson said...

Hmm. Only 3 years old. Does that qualify? I always think a FFB has to be older, usually a lot older. That aside, it does sound interesting, and the library has it.

Todd Mason said...

Actual or potential obscurity, particularly for the vague notion I have of what my reading audience might be (hence the attempt to provide so much in the way of reference links and background info that is surely familiar to, say, fellow FFB writers), is more my criterion for selection...that and being interested in the book, magazine, what have you. This writer and book are completely new to me...and I hope my recent tendency toward old fiction magazines, even more pronounced than in past years, isn't getting to be too tiresome.

Bill Crider said...

My thought about this one was that it was more overlooked than forgotten. However, that doesn't really matter to me. My posts for the FFB meme are whatever I feel like doing at the time.

Howard said...

Thanks for your review; I have put this one in the reading queue.

Try this one, which has a vaguely similar theme: The Book of Air and Shadows, by Michael Gruber. Gruber is a terrific writer and I cannot recommend him highly enough.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I have that book, buried in a pile somewhere. I'll have to look for it.

Richard Robinson said...

I wasn't trying to be critical, Bill. Sorry. If there is an excuse, it could be it was early and I had only had a couple sips of coffee. It wasn't even light out. Besides, I didn't even have a contribution today.

Bill Crider said...

I didn't take it as a criticism. I was just clarifying my "method," such as it is. I've even done recently reprinted books as FFB.

Bud said...

Another tip from the Crider College of Collateral Knowledge gratefully received. It's on its way to me now.

Dan said...

Ya sold me. Checked it out at the Liberry today.

Bill Crider said...

Let us know what you think.

Howard said...

Just wanted to come all the way back here, Bill, to say thanks for having recommended this excellent read. I loved it and will pass it on to the few compulsive readers that I know. Please point out some more stuff that I'd never have run across.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for taking the time to say you liked it. Glad I'm not the only one who did!