I’m a sucker for a book about books (yeah, I know, I’m so meta). But seriously, who doesn’t like reading about things that he/she likes? I like books, and if you like books there’s no way you won’t like Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale. The story centers around Peter Byerly, “a young antiquarian bookseller” who is trying to escape his grief over his late wife Amanda’s sudden and tragic death by moving to England and learning to love collecting and restoring rare books again. But nothing is as it seems when he discovers a book that could change the world of books as we know it – a priceless literary artifact with a painting in it of a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Only, the painting in from the eighteenth century, so it couldn’t be her.
Or could it?
Obsessed with solving the mystery, Peter embarks on a journey that involves murder, secrecy, and deception spanning centuries. It’s not only a lot of fun – it’s also a book that appreciates the importance of a good journey just as much as the satisfaction of a good ending. I didn’t want to put this one down, and even though I was dying to have it all work out in the end, I wasn’t eager for it to be over because it’s just that well written. The prose is sharp and eloquent, the imagery used to describe the book-binding process are practically spell-binding, and Peter’s struggle to overcome his own grief is poignant and real.
And with the recent discovery of another First Folio of Shakespeare in France this book becomes all the more relevant and exciting. This is a book I recommend wholeheartedly for anyone drawn in by the art of bookmaking. After all,
“The best way to learn about books, … is to spend time with them, talk about them, defend them.”
I would definitely second that.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Overall Reaction: Drooling. “A Book-lover’s paradise, right here in my hands. I want to take up book-binding now. Like, right now.”