"Dear Mr. Watson, I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it - Verona Bonn - led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family...."
Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home - a house, perched on the edge of a bluff, that is slowly crumbling toward the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a traveling carnival reading tarot cards and seldom calls.
In late June Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller. The book tells the story of Amos and Evangeline, doomed lovers who worked in a traveling circus more than 200 years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes, sketches, and whimsical flourishes. His best friend and fellow librarian, Alice, looks on in increasing alarm.
Why does his grandmother's name, Verona Bonn, appear in this book? Why do so many women in his family drown on July 24? Is there a curse on his family - and could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in six years, risk the same fate in just a few weeks? In order to save her - and perhaps himself - Simon must try urgently to decode his family history while moving on from the past.
The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books and family and magic.
©2015 Macmillan Audio (P)2015 Macmillan Audio
"Narrator Ari Fliakos has complete control over this tale of magical realism as he underplays the drama and makes the outlandish seem plausible.... Fliakos's performance enhances a terrific book. Listeners will enjoy letting him guide them through the surreal elements of Swyler's story." (AudioFile)
A thoroughly enjoyable book that I savored and kept making excuses NOT to listen to as I got closer and closer to the end. The story starts off as contemporary fiction, and slowly a sort of magic creeps in around the edges until the book becomes what I'd call magical realism. It's akin to Alice Hoffman's stories or Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle in that way. The themes were practically custom-selected for me: librarians, a traveling carnival, tarot card readers, a family with tragic history that is slowly revealed, an ancient manuscript that is the key to it all. The plot of the book is low but twisty, and I loved guessing the connections as they were hinted at and exposed. The setting of the book is very atmospheric too - a New England seaside small town, where the houses are literally being pulled back into the sound by time and weather. The characters are small town personalities, where everyone knows everyone but some secrets lurk unspoken beneath the surface. The emotional feel of the book is lovely and delicate, melancholy and dark. Love is all powerful, but not always as a redemptive force.
The audiobook was beautifully narrated by Ari Fliakos. I highly recommend this book to fans of Maggie Stiefvater, Erin Morgenstern, Alice Hoffman, and Neil Gaiman's writing styles.
Say something about yourself!
I really enjoyed this book. When I first began it, I thought, "Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?" Turns out, I'd fallen asleep (it was nighttime, in fairness to the very lyrical and creative author of this tome). I'm very glad I went back and started over.
There is a firm degree of magical realism here, which brought to mind Alice Hoffman and also Audrey Neffigneger. And the excellent writing made me think of Julia Glass, Richard Russo, and Kate Atkinson.
I really loved every single aspect of Ari Fliakos's work here. In fact, he is part of the reason I decided to start over. He has brilliant nuances that are particular to each character. Honestly, it's one of the best narrations I've ever heard (and I read/listen to about four books a week).
I found the relationship between the main character and his sister to be very touching. There were a lot of scenes between them that I re-listened to, just because they did move me so. I also loved Enola's adorable, tattooed-man boyfriend. And...yep, there's another...I really, really loved the love story between the main character and his object of adoration, Alice.
The Homeschool Librarian
I have already recommended this book to all my friends. Fantastic story and beautiful writing. Most books I've read with a metaphysical theme have a female narrator - it was nice to have a male voice in this one. I would recommend The Book of Speculation to anyone who enjoyed The Night Circus, A Discovery of Witches, or Shadow of the Wind.
I found this first book by this author to be fascinating. It is a book about books that captured my attention from beginning to end. It kept me going on, and on for hours. It just kept you trying to figure out what was going on. This is the kind of piece that keeps you SPECULATING, in the most literal sense of the word. It does justice to its title! It is a complete success. Plus, up until the end it keeps you on pins and needles. It left me with a desire to read more from Swyler. If she continues in this style, I see great works from her in the future. Cheers! I highly recommend. This has been the best read of the summer, so far, for me.
i like to read. i like to listen.
circus acts, magical realism, a mysterious book within the book, a strange family history...come on. this book was written for me. i loved every word, every page, every bit of it.
i could have read this book forever.
I am not good at ranking. It is a part of me the way some books become. You never forget them. It is haunting, remarkable. I am not sure I even liked it but it is so memorable.
The way it unfolded. The way the magic the something has a life of it's own. It isn't evil it just is.
Extremely good. Wonderful character portrayal. I was able to separate them. It was great.
You think of a better question.
This book is fascinating. Any book that grabs you in this way is well written, well thought out and well executed. You may not love it but you won't forget it. Those are the best books.
Multi generational saga with bits office and folklore woven into the story line.
This book has become one of my favorites and would list it as a must read. If you liked, "Water For Elephants ", and "Night Circus", you will love "The Book of Speculation".
I was mesmerized by this novel. It floated along with wonderful visuals and beautiful prose, but was as captivating as a thriller.
The story follows a librarian from a small coastal town as he fights to save his family's home while wrapping himself in the mystery of his eccentric family's past...and the ride is nothing short of magical.
This book falls under Magical Realism, and you would shelf "The Book of Speculation" somewhere near the novels of Margaret Atwood in your mental library.
Highly recommended. It was a great read to start off 2016.
Ari Fliakos has a wonderful voice and does a great job narrating this story. The story is well written with interesting characters and an original premise. I loved this book from the very first page to the very end.
I did like this book. It's different and fresh. Held my interest the whole time.
Maybe Water for Elephants, but probably only because a circus is a large portion of the story.
This man could read the narration of grass growing or paint drying or anything and it would be perfect! His voice is like butter ... yummy ...
Yeah, kinda did.
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