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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Fiction..
The Bookman's Tale opens in 1995, and introduces us to antiquarian book expert Peter Byerly, who has recently relocated from America to the English countryside after the untimely death of his wife, Amanda. In an antiquarian book shop in Hay on Wye, Peter stumbles across a rare book about forgeries; he is bewildered when a watercolour portrait hidden in the book seems to...
Published 10 months ago by jaffareadstoo

versus
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Bookmans Tale: A Novel of Obsession
I found this novel very hard to read - it is quite complicated and difficult to retain interest after first 50 pages. This would suit
someone with plenty of time on their hands. Annabel
Published 8 months ago by Annabel


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Historical Fiction.., 3 Jun 2013
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession (Hardcover)
The Bookman's Tale opens in 1995, and introduces us to antiquarian book expert Peter Byerly, who has recently relocated from America to the English countryside after the untimely death of his wife, Amanda. In an antiquarian book shop in Hay on Wye, Peter stumbles across a rare book about forgeries; he is bewildered when a watercolour portrait hidden in the book seems to resemble his dead wife. What then follows is the story of how Peter's search to discover more about the mysterious Victorian watercolour leads him into the bewildering world of William Shakespeare's lost works.

The mystery at the heart of the story is cunningly manipulated and the twists and turns in the plot are cleverly contrived. However, the real attraction is that this is a book for book lovers, as the description of the conservation and love of books as desirable objects of beauty really comes shining through, and makes you realise the aesthetic value of rare literary masterpieces. The narrative switches effortlessly between three time frames; 1995 and Peter's search for the truth, 1985 and his courtship and early marriage to his beloved Amanda, and even further back to the Elizabethan world of William Shakespeare.

Beautifully written from start to finish, this is one of those stories that deserves to do really well. I really enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing and fun literary-themed mystery., 16 July 2013
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
Peter Byerly is a shy, quiet young man who loves books and keeps to himself, but whilst away studying and working in the library at University in Ridgefield, North Carolina, in the 1980s, he one day notices a female student who he feels a strong and unprecedented attraction towards, and with whom he can finally be himself and find companionship. Amanda feels the same way; the two of them form a bond and a deep love grows between them. His other passion is formed at this time, too; he finds a joy in the repair and restoration of antiquarian books.

As the novel opens, we meet Peter in the mid 1990s now living in a village called Kingham in Oxfordshire, England, without Amanda, who we know has now sadly died, and what happened is revealed over the course of the novel. Peter is bereft, and has been unable to face the routine of his daily life for many months. Eventually, now an antiquarian bookseller and on an outing to Hay-on-Wye, the famous book town in Wales, he uncovers a watercolour image, a portrait, in an old book. The image is of his wife, and yet it can't be; it's a Victorian picture. Shocked by the similarity, he endeavours to discover the history and origin of the portrait, and this search sets his life in motion again and leads him into the path of a potentially life-changing book-related mystery that takes him, and the reader, back to the days of Shakespeare. Whilst assessing the old book collection of a resident of Kingham, Peter stumbles across an incredible find that may just prove the provenance once and for all of what is, for some, one of the biggest mysteries in literary history; that Shakespeare really was the author of the plays attributed to him. The mystery plot in the novel explores whether Peter can prove the authenticity of his find, and if he will get himself and others killed trying to do so.

This is an entertaining, suspenseful mystery tale that has a love of books at its very heart. There is also a centuries-old rivalry, murder, forgery, and intrigue, with a strong and moving love story between Peter and Amanda underpinning it all; the discovery of the way they felt about each other was something neither of them had ever felt before and it changed their lives, bringing love and companionship to two previously lonely souls. It is touching how well the two relate to each other, how Amanda brings Peter out of his shell a little, and how he slowly comes to terms with her devastating loss. The author maintains Peter's social unease and effectively portrays how he gradually becomes braver and finds the strength that he will need if he is to see his quest through.

I enjoyed the three different strands that make up the story; they were weaved together well and kept my interest. I liked the historical aspects and was entertained meeting characters from the past as we learned the history of the book in question; we are taken back to see whose hands it passed through, and where, and how it came to be where it was, and I really enjoyed this aspect of the narrative. This is an enticing story for bibliophiles. Also enjoyable was the journey around to different locations. It takes us from Hay-on-Wye, to the British Museum, via Oxfordshire, Yorkshire, Cornwall and North Carolina, too.

It was a real escape and quite an adventure reading this novel. I read the bulk of it in the garden on a warm summer's day and it was ideal reading for escaping into and being entertained by; I was happy to allow for some of the convenient coincidences and twists in the story, and it was perhaps slightly too perfect an ending, but the adventure and history grabbed me and had me intrigued. I think reading it fairly quickly helped with keeping track of the three different time periods and holding the various events in my mind at once. It has encouraged me to want to go and read more about what is known of the lives of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

The author evidently has a real passion for, and knowledge of, his subject here - he's a former bookseller - which comes through in his enthusiastic telling of this tale, weaving passages on restoring books and details about the clever ways of book forgers into the narrative. Overall, I thought that The Bookman's Tale was a really good read, an absorbing and fun literary-themed mystery.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A jolly good read, 12 Jan 2014
By 
Paul Davies (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
The central character in this book is Peter Byerly, an American bibliophile and book dealer, resident in England, who unearths documents of potentially huge significance to Shakespeare historians, and, in doing so, becomes embroiled in a centuries-old feud between two families of English landed gentry.

There are actually four time lines to follow in this novel, but it is so beautifully written, in an easy style, that it is quite hard to put the book down. It also helps that the chapters are quite short, in the manner of Dan Brown, but with a more believable plot.

This is a brilliantly engaging book which I can thoroughly recommend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A cosy read, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. It has a multi layered but pretty simple plot and Lovett has an easy writing style. The denouement was predictable but still a pleasure to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful historical mystery set around excellent characters. One to be savoured and enjoyed!, 16 Nov 2013
Review also published on my blog, StudentSpyglass.com

Peter Byerly has always been an anxious, shy young man. His late wife Amanda bought him out of his shell, and made him feel comfortable in a way no one else ever had. Nine months after her death, he finally forces himself into a bookshop, hoping to reignite his career as an antiquarian bookseller. Whilst there, he finds a watercolour portrait tucked into one of the books - a portrait of Amanda. A Victorian painting, Peter knows the portrait can't possibly be of his Amanda, yet his curiosity drives him to find out more. As he discovers more about the portrait, he is drawn into a web of lies, secrets and forgeries, a web which may just be hiding the truth about Shakespeare's identity.

A bit like The Da Vinci Code for bibliophiles, The Bookman's Tale is predominantly a mystery. At first, it is all about the painting: who is the woman who looks so like Amanda? Who painted the portrait? Why did they tuck it inside a book instead of displaying it? As more is revealed about the painting, you'll end up with more and more questions, as the stakes continue to grow.

Although a mystery, there is also a lot of romance in The Bookman's Tale. Despite Amanda's death before the start of the book, we get to meet her through both flashbacks and in a spiritual, almost ghostlike form. These appearances slowly reveal more about the start of Amanda and Peter's relationship, as well as their lives together. There are heart-warming moments that will make you smile, moments that will shock you, and some heartbreaking moments that may just make you cry.

It took me a day or so to get into The Bookman's Tale, and I personally found that it was a book I wanted to savour rather than devour. After a few days of savouring though, I couldn't resist staying up until the early hours of the morning finishing it!

Lovett's characters are excellently developed, and I couldn't help but find something to like in each of them. Peter, whilst socially awkward, is immensely likeable, and I imagine an awful lot of bibliophiles will see something of themselves in both his personality and his passion for books. Amanda is a kind, funny, self-assured woman; the sort of woman a lot of us would like to see ourselves as! Supportive and patient with Peter, she never pushes him too far, but manages to draw him out of his shell a little, at a pace that's right for him.

Although I didn't feel as much connection to the historical characters, they were all still likeable and believable. There were a lot of characters involved though, which sometimes made it hard to keep track, and may have explained the lack of connection. I personally much preferred reading about Peter's relationship with Amanda and his own speculations on how the book in his hands had reached him. The flashbacks helped me to put the pieces together as a reader, but Peter's speculation may have been enough alone (that was all he had to go on after all!). I do wonder whether the book could have got away with less time in the past, so that there wasn't quite such a large cast to keep track of.

A novel about Peter's loves and losses, this is truly a book written for book lovers. Even if you know nothing about the debate over Shakespeare's work, Lovett manages to explain the debate without being long-winded or patronising. The background insight into both book restoration and forgeries was also absolutely fascinating stuff. All in all, The Bookman's Tale is an expert blend of mystery and romance, with wonderfully developed characters and infused with Lovett's clear love of books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars To Be Or Not To Be, 1 Oct 2013
By 
Mr. John Frank Herbert (Greenwich, London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
An antiquarian bookseller stumbles on a Victorian portrait of a woman, the double of his deceased wife.
From that moment we're on a delicious ride incorporating Shakespearian forgeries, a family feud, love
and deception, and a cast of magnificent books, not to mention the final decision on whether Shakespeare
was indeed the author of all his works.

Yes, there are a few timelines on the go here, but it all jogs along seamlessly, and the interest is held
throughout.
a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great love story, average mystery, 25 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book very much. The mystery of the book and the portrait were well done, although it became obvious fairly early on where this strand of the story was going. However, for me the outstanding thing about this book is the love story between Peter and Amanda. Poignant, unromantic and lovely, these sections stayed with me long beyond the details of the book-and-portrait storyline. Thoroughly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bibliophile Thriller, 19 July 2013
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
The Bookman's Tale is a story of ghosts and mysteries that will especially appeal to book lovers. The story begins in Hay on Wye on a cold February day in 1995. Recently widowed, Peter Byerly is just beginning to take small steps to rebuild his life after the loss of his beloved young wife Amanda. As he looks through an antique book, he comes across an artist's image of his wife - only this is clearly a Victorian image, painted long before Amanda was even born. The only identifying marks are the initials BB.

The author moves with ease back and forth from different time settings. We follow Peter in the modern day, we learn more about his wife Amanda, going back to their university days in the 1980s and then the reader is transported back to the sixteenth century - the time of Shakespeare.

This is, quite simply, a historical mystery for book lovers, but it is not simple in its writing. It is a very accomplished story, with layers of murder, feuding, romance and lots and lots of book dealing.

Charlie Lovett has captured the passion of booksellers in each of his characters and has created a gripping thriller for bibliophiles everywhere.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE BOOKMAN'S TALE., 31 July 2013
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
A cleverly penned historical mystery combined with a wonderfully tender and moving romance at the heart of which is a fascinating story about the conservation and forgery of rare literary masterpieces.

With a host of memorable characters, many of whom struck a chord deep within, and a plot that follows the changing of hands of a book that may or may not have been a forgery.The Bookman's Tale, set in three time periods (the mid 1990's, the 1980's and and the Elizabethan time of Shakespeare), sees the author seamlessly and skillfully weave an accomplished and powerful story that I found to be provocative and heart-stoppingly descriptive.

Every inch a work of passion, the author's adoration for antique books shine through. Not just for fans of the Bard, this is very much a read for all those who love books about books.

Copyright: Petty Witter @ Pen and Paper.
Disclaimer: Read and reviewed on behalf of publishers, ALMA BOOKS, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
The Bookman's Tale
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, 20 July 2013
This review is from: The Bookman's Tale (Paperback)
You do not have to be a fan of Shakespear to enjoy this story. All you need is for the love of reading books. There much more to this story than shakespear. Peter is a young antiquarian book seller. Peter decides to go into a book shop while he is looking at a book a victorian portrait strikingly similar to his late wife Amanda falls out of the book. Peter sets about finding more information about how a hundred year old portrait painting like his wife happens to be in a eighteenth century book. I recommend THE BOOKMAN'S TALE to all readers who love twist, murder, mystery, feud and romance. Review by ireadnovels.wordpress.com
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The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession
The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett (Hardcover - 28 May 2013)
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