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The Sonnet Lover

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,446 ratings  ·  146 reviews
For how thy memory has lingered on–
In spite of cruelest winter’s drear and howl–
By inner mirror seen; I’ve dwelled upon,
I must confess, my treachery most foul.

Did Shakespeare pen a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholarship, ardently praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty? This tantalizing question is raised in a letter to literature professor Rose Asher
Hardcover, First Edition, 350 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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This is one of those books I wanted to like a great deal more than I actually did. The premise was very interesting to me: Rose Asher, a lit professor who specializes in Renaissance sonnets, finds herself drawn into a controversy surrounding the discovery of a cache of new work that might have been written by a lover of William Shakespeare. In her quest to discover the truth behind these mysterious poems, she travels to Italy where she has to confront not just the past of her elusive poet, but a ...more
Jan 29, 2012 Kurt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Carol Goodman, Italy, poetry, or Shakespeare (in that order)
I should get this out of the way at the beginning of the review. This is not a book aimed at a male audience. A disproportionate number of plot points revolve around vaginal bleeding, specifically vaginal bleeding (due to menstruation, loss of virginity, and/or violent intercourse) as interpreted through a fine art, like tapestry-weaving, painting, interior design stonework, or Renaissance poetry.

If this scares you away from reading the book, I sympathize. If this had been my first Carol Goodma
This ended up being my least favorite of Carol Goodman's books. All of the others were completely absorbing, but I found my attention wandering while reading this one. I wasn't very interested in the mystery from the past, which revolved around the identity of the Dark Lady in Shakespeare's sonnets. The present-day mystery and love story weren't much better; nothing felt authentic. Goodman can do much better.
Carol Goodman's "The Sonnet Lover" paints an interesting portrait in its premise, like many of the author's works in consideration. A professor at a college returns to Italy after 20 years - in the event of the questionable death of one of her students. The questionable nature of it lies in a letter the student, Robin, leaves her just moments before his death. Rose Anders believes that one of the boys (Orlando) who was close to scene of Robin's death may have murdered him, and also might hold th ...more
Normally, I can't read Goodman's books fast enough but this one took some work. The beginning was slow for me. I had to work hard to get into the story. Then, the author introduces a flood of characters all at once. It took me a while to figure everyone out and the lawsuit that runs throughout the book isn't explained very well. Perhaps if I had been able to read it all in one sitting it would have been easier.
When the story does finally pick up it moves quickly! The resolution at the Italian vi
The Sonnet Lover

Perhaps I write and live in a bookstore because of the feeling this book gives me. Or to be exact page 350. That feeling of my heart filling up, cara, completely satisfied with the writing (and I have been told I am too picky about that), story, ending, plot, characterization, pace, language. One would therefore surmise this one is a ‘spiritual’ book knowing me. Decidedly not, it is a literary mystery. But then, I am talking about what Shakespeare has, that, like Virginia Woolf a
Bev Hankins
I picked it up at the library book store because it was a scholarly mystery--my weakness. Meh. Not nearly as enchanting as I was led to believe by the book blurb. "Did Shakespeare pen a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholarship, ardently praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty?" The better question is: Do we care? Not so much. The best part of the book? The very first line: "The most thankless job on the planet may well be teaching Renaissance love poetry to a group of hormone ...more
Why indeed. Well, I've read her other books, which fall under the category of "light reading" for me. The last one I read was when I was in the ER a couple of years ago, and that's perhaps why I failed to remember how annoying I found it. I really liked Goodman's first two books, but I think she's found a formula--female academic in jeopardy--that has made her writing tedious.

This particular novel revolves around the question of "the dark lady" who appears in some of Shakespeare's sonnets. The a
Reading this reminded me of why I decided to major in English Lit. I was reminded of my once love affair with poets like Shakespeare and Dante, and of how sonnets, poetry and the written word, in general, can move people - to tears, to action, and, in this case, to murder. When one of Professor Rose Asher’s students is killed, Rose travels to Italy to research some lost sonnets believed to be linked to William Shakespeare. Interesting premise that should’ve led to a great mystery, but for me, it ...more
3.5 stars.

I enjoyed this book. It was an entertaining, light read that kept me turning the pages. I was a bit apprehensive at first as I found the dialogue and storyline in the first few chapters lacking direction, however as soon as the setting shifted from New York to Florence, my attention was captured. Florence is my favourite city and I love reading about it, whether the author be writing fact or fiction. I loved Carol Goodman's descriptions of Firenze, so very accurate and really brought t
Christopher Everest
A neat book. A tidy book. Interesting. A lecturer in Comparative literature uncovers murder whilst searching for a connection between Shakespeare and the mysterious Dark Lady of his sonnets. It includes so many things I love - Women, Women who read, libraries, the strange incestuous existence of the literary academic feeding upon both the literature of the past and the necessity to publish in the present. I would love to feel so close to the source of something new in a literary sense. Whether t ...more
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A disappointing book from one of my favorite authors.

Rose, a professor at a small liberal arts college, is convinced to spend the summer researching in Italy at an estate connected to the college. A series of deaths and injuries lead her to lose focus on her primary research and begin her own investigation. Along the way she reconnects with an ex-lover whose family may be tied into the crimes.

Unfortunately there are too many inconsistencies to make this a worthwhile read. People die without any
Rose Asher is a literature professor at Hudson College in New York City. Her star pupil, Robin, writes her a letter in which he raises the tantalising question as to whether there exists a series of passionate sonnets written by Ginevra de Laura, a 16th Century Italian poet who might be Shakespeare's Dark Lady. However, before Rose can discover more tragedy strikes. In order to uncover the truth Rose accepts the position of historical consultant for a movie about Ginevra de Laura based on a scre ...more
This book turned out to be quite a disappointment for me. I'm a big fan of Goodman's, but this one committed too many writing sins for me to really enjoy it. It followed formula a little too closely, and I thought there were far too many instances of convenience. This book just felt like a pale imitation of some of Goodman's other, better works, like The Lake of Dead Languages. Some minor spoilers to follow.

One of the major problems of the book, for me, was Rose. I never really connected with he
This contemporary tale involves a comparative literature professor, Rose Asher, at a small liberal arts college in New York City. When one of her students dies, she is drawn back to Italy and her past intersects with her search for poems by an Italian woman who may be Shakespeare's Dark Lady. Players include a movie producer working on a film based on her student Robin's screenplay, her formeI lover and his wife and son, the dean and her current lover, another professor and his wife, and the own ...more
Never quite lived up to my okay story, but not as thrilling as others.

"Did Shakespeare pen a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholarship, ardently praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty? This tantalizing question is raised in a letter to literature professor Rose Asher. But the letter’s author, Rose’s star pupil, is not telling. A troubled, enigmatic young man, he plunged to his death in front of the college’s entire faculty, an apparent suicide. Determined to find t
Heidi L.
Ooh, I liked it! Kind of like the whole Shakespeare in love theme. The story is based on the theory that Shakespeare penned a series of passionate sonnets, unknown to modern scholars, praising a mysterious dark-haired beauty. This question is raised in a letter to a literature professor, Rose, from one of her students. But before she can find out what he knows, he falls off the top story of a campus building, an apparent suicide. She then travels from New York to Italy to a beautiful villa outsi ...more
May 07, 2008 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Erin by: like the author
Carol Goodman has a way of making me feel like I am part of the story, like I am there. I love that. The Sonnet Lover has been no exception, and best of all, it takes place in New York City and Florence, Italy so I feel like I've visited these places recently even though I haven't.

Literature professor Rose Asher travels from New York to La Civetta, a tuscan villa in Italy, to search for some mysterious sonnets, perhaps written by Shakespeare's dark lady, and answers to why a student of hers plun
Morgan Robinson
This happened to be my first journey into carol goodmans books, I read it a few years ago, and absolutely loved it! I, like many people who read this book, enjoy historical mystery. And I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book. I'll start by saying that I am not a huge fan of female writers. I'm not sure what it is, but many female authors I have found to be to whimsical, and write in a way that I just can't connect with. That being said, I have enjoyed all of carol goodmans books so far. ...more
Amy (amyb2332)
This book was a little slower moving then the last couple of things I read, so I think it probably took me longer than normal to get into this book. The author had this amazing way of writing so that I felt like I was in the novel. The works really just soaked into me. At the same time though, as someone that hasn’t read a lot of Shakespeare or poetry, there were times I felt a little lost in the words. I would find myself having to reread a piece so I could clarify what was going on.

Though this
I loved Carol Goodman's "The Lake of Dead Languages" and was thrilled to find a new book written by her on the library shelf. Unfortunately, I am not going to finish this book. Within the first 35 pages I found two errors which are, given the circumstances, not acceptable. Despite Goodman's thanks in the "Acknowlegdments" section to all those who "gave invaluable assistance in providing and correcting Italian phrases" one of the first Italian words she used was misspelled (On pg. 19 'facia' shou ...more
I'm not really sure why I got this book out of the library. I picked it up randomly and flicked through it, since it was about sonnets and Shakespeare and I've been interested in that kind of thing lately thanks to my courses, and found myself reading it and then curious enough to take it out. The writing itself is reasonably absorbing -- it's in first person, which I didn't like all that much at first, but the descriptions are quite lovely and Carol Goodman does create quite a clear sense of lo ...more
2 stars is generous for this one, it was more a 1 1/2.

The author's formula of female academic solving an age old mystery has gotten old, and this one is particularly weak, as was the heroine. I found myself wanting to give her a good smack.

All the proof against the villain was so weak and full of holes and the true bad guy was telegraphed almost from the very beginning. It was hard to get involved, or even care, about the historical mystery and the ending was just too precious for belief.
Another good one by Carol Goodman with descriptive settings that transport me to Italy. In this one, a Literature professor at a small New York College who is also a scholar of Shakespeare's sonnets gets embroiled in a mystery that takes her to a villa in Tuscany to hunt for (possibly hidden) sonnets written by a woman who lived in the villa back in Shakespeare's day, possibly his lover, to lure him to visit her there in Italy. (There is no evidence Shakespeare ever went to Italy, but there's no ...more
Yvonne Boag
Rose teaches Renaissance poetry to her students, one in particular, Robin Weiss embraces it with a passion. He has come back from La Civetta a villa in Tuscany where he has made a short movie. On the night the movie is shown, Robin apparently commits suicide by jumping off a building. Rose has been asked to travel to La Civetta, a place she hasn't been to in twenty years after an affair with a married man ended badly. Robin had written a screenplay which featured a love affair between Shakespear ...more
Not one of her best, I must say. While I loved Carol's first three books, this one was just a bit too "coincidental" for me. The Prof who is dating the college President and who also had an young love-affair with an Italian professor who coincidentally lives at the Villa in Italy used by the College. Young student gets killed in USA, Prof and President go to villa to help with a movie written by killed student only to get involved in intrigue over what exactly happened to killed student...suicid ...more
Sylvia Walker
While I loved "The Ghost Orchid" and "The Lake of Lost Languages", I wasn't so enthralled with "The Sonnet Lover." I didn't find the characters especially likeable, in fact, the best character was the Italian villa where most of the story takes place. The plot was just plain...well, I hate to say dumb, so let's say instead that it strained my credulity. This book seemed to be a rather tired product from a usually better author.
Okay -- I have some minor quibbles and at least a couple that are more than minor but I'm ignoring those -- all of them . Why? First, because everything of Goodman's I'd read previously has delighted me at one or more levels. Second, there are portions of this which sing to me -- of many and various small "obsessions" which I love to encounter in my reading. And -- when reading suspense -- it is impressive to me that she can hold onto the high pitch to the very end as she does. And then there ar ...more
Marthe Bijman
This novel is based on an interesting literary conundrum:- Did William Shakespeare have an Italian lady love who was also a poet? The settings of Renaissance poetry and society and modern American academia are woven together with interlocking murderous plots that build up to a predictable, but sweet ending. Fine love sonnets by the author’s husband provide the main clues in this Florentine whodunit. Goodman further evokes the Renaissance through fulsome descriptions of the villa where the action ...more
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Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Fairwick Chronicles, Watchtower Trilogy (with husband Lee Slonimsky), and the forthcoming young adult Blythewood series. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latt, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several y ...more
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