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The Bookman’s Tale

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  16,120 ratings  ·  2,520 reviews
"What about the most valuable relic in the history of English literature—would that be worth killing for?"

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn't sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Viking (first published January 1st 2013)
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Judy I had the same problem The will said "youngest living heir," and Amanda was dead at the time the will was found. The youngest living heir would have b…moreI had the same problem The will said "youngest living heir," and Amanda was dead at the time the will was found. The youngest living heir would have been her mother Sarah.(less)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,120 ratings  ·  2,520 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-books
''Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content,
The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent,
The poor estate scorns Fortune's angry frown.
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.''
Robert Greene

 photo william-shakespeare_zps29f7dc95.jpg
William Shakespeare, the “upstart crow”.

Bartholomew Harbottle was a rogue, but a brilliant one. He was a bookseller who knew most of the major playwrights of the Elizabethan Age including Christopher
Bookcaffe Swanbourne
Look, I liked this book and I can understand why I found it really hard to put down. Lovett was the master of the cliffhanger. Just when I thought that I was going to put the book down and go do something else, something big would happen but the actual specific detail ie what might be in a particular letter would be held off until another chapter. Frustrating, but a great narrative technique for building tension. But the thing is, and this is why I've given this book such a low star rating, that ...more
Removed Removed
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
WOW! Ok…So I loved this one!

When shopping for a novel, have you ever picked one up and thought “Yup! This is going to be great!” That is the reaction I had to this novel from the moment I received it in the mail and read the back cover. Happy to say, Mr. Lovett did not disappoint.

The novels main focus is on Peter, an antiquarian bookseller, who has lost his wife a few months prior to the opening pages. To say that Peter is socially inept would be an understatement, as he seems to struggle with e
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I saw on Goodreads that this book was compared to Possession by A.S. Byatt and that really made me want to read this book. Alas, this book was like a pale version of possession. It had elements of Possession. Especially the ending when Peter(view spoiler)

The problem was that the characters were very flat and honestly boring. Peter meets Amanda and they fall in love, he discovers that she is a rich heiress (No way, I didn’t see that co
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession is a Viking Adult publication. This book was released in May 2013. I would like to thank the publisher and Edelweiss for the digital copy of this book.

Peter leaves the United States for Kingham, Oxforshire, England. It has been nine months since the untimely death of his beloved wife, Amanda. He and Amanda had purchased a cottage here just a short time before her death. Peter is utterly bereft and without direction since his wife died. Even his beloved bo
Sep 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Sadly I did not like this book as much as I expected I would. The idea was good, I enjoyed the main characters and the story was interesting. However I felt that every time things started to get exciting the chapter ended and the author whipped me off to another time and another place. This is a normal practice for many books but somehow in this one it just got in the way of the story and became irritating. An okay read but could have been better.
Stephen P
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I have no reason to be miffed that this tale did not bend to my desires, maintain the life within the dust of old libraries, the crackle of a turned ancient page, the life within and for books. This was enough for me.

I watched the young college student trudging cross campus his books held close against his chest, huddled over them, eyes down, to avoid any conversation. His life is best spent surrounded by books. Working at the University Library shelving them he is given the opportunity to learn
Jill Hutchinson
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is a book for the avid bibliophile and lover of a good story well written. It centers around the Holy Grail of antiquarian book discoveries, one that every book collector dreams of and which will make history....unless, of course, it is a forgery.

The main protagonist is Peter Byerly, a book collector and conservator who finds a small watercolor in the pages of an old book - a watercolor that looks exactly like his recently deceased young wife. Thus begins a strange tale of obsession and mu
Jul 02, 2013 rated it liked it
The first 1/3rd of this book was a 4 star- and it read quickly.

The rest of the book just about made 3, 2.5 actually. The characters were so cozy and predictable that the sequences became redundant (and the romance especially was almost plodding and trite- like a Hallmark card). I am not a romance reader when the characterizations are so narrowly structured as in this book.

The device of different segments of quick short length jumping from era to era back and forth over the nearly 400 years? Thi
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“But sometimes you’re just going to have to let me hurt.” (2.5 stars)

The premise to “The Bookman’s Tale” was intriguing. The execution of that premise was quite average. The novel is a beach read for bibliophiles, rare book lovers, or those who like Shakespeare related stories that expand and imagine the world of the Bard.
Full disclosure, I am one of those readers.
First off, I do appreciate the fact that the action of the text is motivated by a character who is able to prove definitively that S
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
This had so much for folks like me (bibliographers, old lit types): Robert Cotton! Sir Gawain! The Hinman Collator! North Carolina!But it kind of ruins it all. The prose is painfully blunt. The love story stuff was just icky: she gives herself to him as a present to "unwrap"--in the rare books room of the library. She is Perfection, even more so when he realizes that she is actually an Imperfect Woman. I cannot believe the author had to set up the anti-Stratfordians as a legitimate group to expl ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Original Review:

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

Pub Date: May 28, 2013

Every once in a while you find a book that so perfectly explores your interests that you’re overwhelmed; the kind of book that upon reading the description any one who knows you is bound to remark “Oh that’s a book for Alexandra.” The Bookman’s Tale is that book for me.

Peter Byerly is an antiquarian book dealer who has just lost his wife, the heiress Amanda. When Peter picks up and
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
A great disappointment. I was attracted to this novel by the title because I love books and believed it would be a good story based on the fact that I was on the waiting list at the library several weeks before I could borrow it.

Basically, Lovett tries to write a Dan Brown type novel. He fails.His main character Peter Byerly is professional book dealer. He is familiar with rare books and documents. He also has a social anxiety disorder that is supposed to endear him to us? Lovett's characters h
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antique book restoration expert Peter Byerly is adrift following the unexpected death of his wife, Amanda. In a bid to try and get his life back to some sort of normality he moves from North Carolina to England and is trying to face bookshops which he and his young wife held in high esteem, once again. Peter's life will be thrown upside down after discovering a painting of Amanda inside an early Shakespeare folio. This find will see him go on a path of book enlightenment as he tries to find out ...more
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I held off using an e-reader for this long - I love books - maybe not quite as much as Peter - His obsessions are most understandable. Ironically my first e-read is about a bibliophile - I can never see Peter reading this way! I adore the characters - Peter and his two Amanda's swept me away - I felt their joy, their fear, their successes and disappointments. I cried some tears of sorrow, but more of happiness. I love Amanda's appearances to Peter to help him. The book aspect was of interest rig ...more
David Eppenstein
When I purchase a book I try to select something that will both engage as well as entertain me. When a book meets that expectation I give it 4 stars. To get 5 stars a book must do more than simply exceed my expectations; it must also make an impact; it must have a WOW quality. Charlie Lovett's "The Bookman's Tale" is getting 5 stars from me. This book is a multi-faceted gem that will charm the reader, especially if the reader is a serious bibliophile.

So what are the facets of this gem? Well ther
Diane S ☔
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 Book Obsession and Hay-on-Wye, a place a friend of mine and I really want to go, They have more bookstores per capita than any other place on earth. This is a book lovers romp through history with some likable and some mysterious characters. Covers book forgeries, art forgeries and the tracing through the past of a book annotated with Shakespeare's musings. We follow the book to the time of Kit Marlowe and Shakespeare as well as many literary collectors of books and letters. We follow as the ...more
When I discovered this book it seemed to have all the ingredients to make it the kind of story I really love.
It's about rare books, manuscripts, book collectors and sellers....and Shakespeare, so how could it fail?
Well, unfortunately the author used his obviously extensive knowledge of these subjects as the background for a murder mystery story which relied on, what was for me, far too many somewhat improbable coincidences.
It was a good idea, and I enjoyed the bookish parts, but couldn't en
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like any decent mystery, this required just the right amount from the reader. I enjoyed how it pulled me in, making me a participant in unraveling the puzzle. Each time I set it down I found myself wondering where the heck the story would lead next. One plot point bugged me and spots could feel farce-y or a stretch, but I tried to chalk it up to part of the fun, and, in hindsight, I think the author was poking a bit of fun at himself and his own book-selling/collecting world. In this same vein, ...more
Dana Stabenow
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Peter Byerly, an antiquarian book dealer, has escaped to England to try to recover from the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, when he finds a painting of her between the pages of a book. The problem is, the watercolor of Amanda was painted a hundred years before she was born.

Peter steals the watercolor and embarks on a quest to discover who the mysterious painter, B.B., was, and who the model was who sat for the portrait. This leads by various ways and means to a breakneck and bloody chase acro
'The Bookman's Tale' is a mystery woven around rare books. Peter Byerly finds a watercolor painting in an antique book that bears a striking resemblance to his recently deceased wife, Amanda. He's a collector and restorer of rare books and can't get over the strong resemblance of the painting to his wife. He begins researching where the painting might have come from and finds himself pulled into a dangerous web of deceit, one that proves deadly.

The author reveals the history of the painting Pete
Maine Colonial
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Our protagonist, Peter Byerley, is a young bookseller who caught the bibliophile bug at (the fictional) Ridgefield University in North Carolina. A scholarship boy with crippling shyness, his preferred work/study job was in the library, because he wouldn't have to interact with anyone. And yet that is where he meets the two great loves of his life: rare books and Amanda Middleton.

The story actually begins with Peter recently widowed, Amanda having died suddenly after they'd been married only six
Charles Finch
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. My USA Today review:

The Bookman's Tale
By Charlie Lovett
Viking, 368 pp.
* * *

The tale of a battered antiquarian book with a mysterious, perhaps even magical connection to the past has been told so frequently in recent years, by writers high and low — Roberto Bolano, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Diane Setterfield — that this entry into the genre feels, though affable and well-researched, pretty shopworn. The volume in question this time around may link a wi
Sep 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I struggled to get as far as I did - page 70. I always feel disappointed when I don't like a book, especially when my friends love it. But....we are all different people with different tastes so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad about it.

Anyway, I just couldn't get into it. After 70 pages of not being interested I don't think it's going to improve much for me personally so I set it aside....
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Another entertaining book by Charlie Lovett. He has given me a new genre to love, literary mysteries. I'll admit that I'm not really a Shakespeare fan but it still did not deter me from loving every minute of this book.
I'm always a sucker for books about books! Peter Byerly is a rare book dealer who has moved to England after the recent death of his wife. While perusing a used bookstore, he comes across a small water color portrait of a woman who looks very much like his wife. He is also contacted by some a local man who is hoping that Peter can sell off some of his families rare books; these two mysteries form the basis of the story that goes back and forth through time to trace the origins of some of the wor ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, c21st, 13review
My father’s going to love this novel. Perfect for people who love books and literature, The Bookman’s Tale, A Novel of Obsession is just the kind of story he enjoys: a cleverly constructed mystery that respects the reader’s intelligence.

At Wikipedia the Shakespearean authorship question is a long page with a zillion references - but apart from a few diehard conspiracy theorists, the issue appears to have been resolved in favour of William Shakespeare of Stratford. Millions of tourists who’ve mad
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Although it's not in the same class with Possession or Shadow of the Wind (as implied by the blurbs), Charlie Lovett's homage to the rare book trade is a fun and informative read. Despite the melodrama and the ghostly interventions of an untimely dead and well-beloved spouse, this first novel is a page turner. Three stories interweave: the protagonist's wooing of and loss of his wife and introduction to the world of rare books and manuscripts, the protagonist's solving of a rare book mystery tha ...more
Nita Kohli
Currently I am in the mood of reading books about books with some mystery and suspense. Owing to this, the last book I read was The Burnable book by Bruce Holsinger which was a perfect start to my craving for such books at present.

Continuing with this trend and my taste for the time being, I picked up The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett. This is my second book from this author - few months back I read First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by him. Though I was
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
“‘That must be something to discover a book that nobody's ever heard of or everybody thought was lost.’
‘It's every bibliophile's dream,’ said Francis, and Peter knew in a second that it was his own.”

Last month, I decided to rejoin the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club with @annebogel - turns out, when you stop buying books, it frees up money for other book-adjacent activities 😄.

The Bookman’s Tale was my first read with the club, and it was fascinating. The plot centers around an antiquarian book sell
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I was born in Winston-Salem, NC and grew up as the child of an English professor. We spent our summers in the rural North Carolina mountains, so I felt an early affinity for the countryside. I was educated at Summit School, Woodberry Forest School (VA), and Davidson College (NC) and in 1984 went into the antiquarian book business with my first wife, Stephanie. About the same time I began to seriou ...more

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