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The Sonnet Lover

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,932 ratings  ·  186 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
Hardcover, First Edition, 350 pages
Published June 12th 2007 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  1,932 ratings  ·  186 reviews

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Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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 ...more
Jun 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, mystery
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.
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Dec 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Joan Cochran
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was wandering the shelves of my library trying to find something good for the Memorial Day Weekend when I came across Carol Goodman's books. I hadn't read anything by her in years though I loved what I had read -- Arcadia Falls and The Drowning Tree. As usual, Goodman has created a beautifully written and plotted novel that invites readers into a rather arcane world populated by really interesting and intelligent (mostly academic) individuals. It doesn't hurt that I love Florence, where most ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was so disappointed in this book. I really wanted to love it, I'm a little obsessed with anything Italy right now. BUT the plot was obvious and expected, the characters were dull and under developed and the big "find" unbelievable. The main character was dumb for someone so smart and I hate that "we got into a fight so I'll run away because everythings over and can't be worked out and talked about" and then prince charming realizes his error and comes to find her. The plot was underdeveloped ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have started reading books again now that I no longer have prisms in my glasses and with the right light, I do not have any trouble. I have thoroughly enjoyed the stories I have read by Carol Goodman and this one did not disappoint me. I did find myself wanting to shake the main character when her conclusions were not right and mine were dead on. The ending was so dang satisfying. However the sonnets were not or ever assumed to be penned by Shakespeare but to him by his Dark Lady…bah, book ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2017, audio-1000
I listened to this book on audio and I must admit that for a murder mystery it was rather weak. The murderer was quite obvious and there were too many coincidences that happened throughout the book that I found this book to be totally unbelievable. The main character, Rose, was very hard to connect to as she had no depth to her character. All in all, I was rather disappointed but I will try another one of her books as I have seen some good reviews from readers of her novels.
Paula Schumm
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I listened to the audiobook from the library. This murder mystery is set in Florence, Italy. Rose was an American student there twenty years ago, and now she is a college professor teaching poetry/sonnets. There are many twists and turns in this drama, and Rose seems to be in the right place at the right time to overhear every conversation she needs to figure out the solution. Recommended.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Meh. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't particularly compelling. I didn't buy the protagonist's theories about Robin, and to some extent, I found myself not particularly caring, either. I did like the narrator, but I wish I could have read the sonnets because the only thing I didn't like about her was that I wasn't sure about the cadence of the poetry.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book that makes you want to travel to Florence and dive in its artistic history. Carol Goodman uses rich British vocabulary which is a bit struggling for non native readers. However the story is so good that it makes you read it to the very last page with great pleasure.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Murder and poetry & Italy. She had me at the first sonnet, but still not sure about some of the plot details.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Audiobook performed by Jeri Taylor
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Overall this is a great story and I loved the resolution but I felt like the book as a whole dragged. There was so much repetition within it.
Val Shockley
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I used to read this author with my mom. She read this one. I hadn't. It is a nice story. Kind of predictable. More a good memory for me. The poetry was good. The ending rushed.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant and romantic story

So glad I found this. Mystery story imbued with a strong sense of past and present Italy. Evocative, delicious. What a pleasure.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I give this book a grade of B-minus. Not a bad summer read, but not one I found particularly engaging.
Seema Rao
Jun 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Middling book blending historical and current events. I'm too much of an academic to overlook the inaccuracies.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was my least favorite Goodman book. I thought I'd really like the Shakespeare tie-in about the main character discovering the possible identity of the "Dark Lady" of the sonnets, but the story itself was confusing and actually pretty boring. The story starts with weird behavior from Rose's star pupil, then there's a thread about a movie being filmed on site about what this student apparently discovered at a villa in Florence. Then the student dies, then the movie producer (randomly) asks ...more
Melissa Embry
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
For everybody who wishes Dorothy L. Sayers had written an entire series of academic mysteries like "Gaudy Night," I've got two words: Carol Goodman. In Goodman's "The Sonnet Lover" mysterious deaths plus a Renaissance woman poet (and possible candidate for Shakespeare's Dark Lady lover) plus plenty of academic backstabbing add up to an exhilarating romantic romp that rivals (and updates) Sayers.

Professor Rose Asher thinks teaching Renaissance love poetry to 21st century students is a thankless
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 ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it
For a smart lady, Comparative Literature professor, Dr Rose Asher is surprisingly dim. And not only do we, the reader, realise this. The good protagonist herself admits to being wrong about implausibly arrived at assumptions to do with relationships, sexual orientation, motivation and basic human decency as it relates to almost every single character in the book. It's uncanny, and unbelievable, how wholesale her ineptness is.

Every character in this novel is deeply flawed, except for her Hudson
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
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 ...more
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 ...more
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Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Seduction of Water, which won the Hammett Prize, and The Widow's House, which won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also the co-author, with her husband Lee Slonimsky, of the Watchtower fantasy trilogy. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latte, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After ...more