Reviews for Bookman's Tale
Booklist Reviews 2013 May #2
Antiquarian bookseller Peter Byerly immerses himself in his trade to overcome grief from the loss of his beloved wife a few months earlier. Now plying his trade in England's Cotswolds instead of the North Carolina site of his tragedy, Byerly happens across a small watercolor portrait of a woman who looks startlingly like his late wife. And so begins an obsessive hunt to find out the origins of this painting. Lovett shifts his narrative around in both time and setting, recounting the lovers' first meeting, in the library at a southern college, and the blossoming of their seemingly improbable love affair: he a bookish, repressed teen, and she an heiress. Byerly discovers the portrait's Victorian provenance, and then the author moves his story even further back, to the time of Shakespeare. Fans of mysteries, of love stories, and of rare books will all find moments in Lovett's novel to treasure. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
A pleasurably escapist trans-Atlantic mystery is intricately layered with plots, murders, feuds, romances, forgeries--and antiquarian book dealing. Lovett's engagingly traditional debut offers flavors of notable British antecedents--Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, Noel Coward--while spinning tales in several different eras, all centered on the book that supposedly inspired Shakespeare's play A Winter's Tale. The novel's hero is insecure, grieving, widowed bookseller Peter Byerly, whose scholarship to Ridgefield University in North Carolina introduced him to his twin passions: his future wife, Amanda, and old books. Peter's wooing and winning of Amanda is one of the novel's three concurrent plot strands, the others (both set in the U.K.) being a here-and-now hunt and chase and a through-the-ages tracing of a volume of Pandosto, a play by Robert Greene which came to be annotated by Shakespeare and, if found and exposed in modern times, would answer an earth-shattering (to some) question of scholarship: Did Shakespeare really write his plays or not? Peter's discovery, in a bookshop, of a Victorian watercolor portrait seemingly of his dead wife sets this sizable ball rolling and leads through new female friendships, murder scenes and tombs to a pleasing-if-predictable country-house denouement. A cheerily old-fashioned entertainment. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 January #1
Devastated by the death of his wife, Amanda, young antiquarian bookseller Peter Byerly leaves North Carolina for England. There, in a book on Shakespeare forgeries, he finds a small Victorian watercolor so resembling Amanda that he is compelled to track down its origins. Comparisons to A.S. Byatt's Possession. [Page 64]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 April #2
Peter Byerly cut himself off from the world to recover from the loss of his wife, Amanda, who died nine months ago. An American antiquarian bookseller now living in England, Peter returns to work and discovers, in an 18th-century book about Shakespeare forgeries, a Victorian miniature portrait of a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife. His research to identify the watercolor's origins uncovers what could be the holy grail of Shakespeare studies--a book annotated by the Bard at the time he was writing A Winter's Tale--and leads Peter on a dangerous quest to prove the book's authenticity. Interwoven throughout are flashbacks to Peter's early relationship with Amanda and chapters on the book's travels through many hands since 1592. VERDICT Drawing on debates about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays as well his own experience in the cutthroat world of antiquarian books, debut author Lovett has crafted a gripping literary mystery that is compulsively readable until the thrilling end. Recommended for fans of Geraldine Brooks's People of the Book, Shakespeare aficionados, and bibliophiles. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/12.]--Katie Lawrence, Chicago [Page 75]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Peter is so unmoored by his wife's death that he relies on written instructions from his therapist reminding him to eat and sleep regularly. Restarting his life as a rare book dealer is important, too, and it's during this pursuit that he finds a painting of his wife tucked into a book. The volume and the painting, though, are 150 years old. Unraveling the mystery involves Da Vinci Code-like sleuthing into the works of Shakespeare and sliding back to the bard's time. (LJ 4/15/13)--HT-V (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 April #5
Lovett's debut is a century-spanning web of literary mystery that ensnares American Peter Byerly, a rare bookseller. Living abroad in the months after the death of his wife Amanda, Peter is mystified to discover a watercolor uncannily resembling her--especially since it's from the Victorian era. Vowing to learn more about the obscure artist--"B.B."--Peter stumbles into the argument about the authorship of Shakespeare's work, which might contain a link to the mysterious painter. "The mystery of the watercolor's origins felt deeply personal and Peter could already feel curiosity and grief melding into obsession." Lovett's novel skips in time to various periods in Peter's life, and even before it, extending as far back as 1592 when Shakespeare and his cohorts haunted taverns, and to 1879 when folios of his plays became prized possessions. As Peter continues his sleuthing, he finds himself a potential suspect in a murder investigation and a "hundred-and-thirty-year-old scandal" with "the most valuable relic in the history of English literature" at its core. Although the discussion of the provenance of Shakespeare's plays will appeal to bibliophiles, the frequent flashbacks to bygone days interrupt the narrative flow. In addition, the characters' dialogue, while full of passion for letters, is wooden and uninspired. Agent: David Gernert, the Gernert Agency. (June) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC