The Bookman's Tale

A Novel of Obsession
Narrated by: John Bedford Lloyd
Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (375 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman's Tale is a former bookseller's sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature's most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt's Possession.

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 to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an 18th-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn't really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture's origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare's time, Peter communes with Amanda's spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

©2013 Charlie Lovett (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Bookman's Tale

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mixed bag.

As other reviewers have written, Lovett's book is a mixture of love story, literary mystery, and whodunnit. For my taste, the literary mystery is quite interesting while the other plots are so-so, depending too much on unconvincing coincidence.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best books I have read.

What did you love best about The Bookman's Tale?

Well constructed with interweaving story lines that keep you wanting more. This book deserves more attention than it has received so far.

What other book might you compare The Bookman's Tale to and why?

The originality of the story and the intricate story reminded me of The 13th Tale.

Any additional comments?

A wonderful combination of mystery, romance and literary history that takes the reader on a wonderful journey. I can not recommend this book strongly enough! A MUST READ!

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful listen

Some scholarly stories can be tedious, especially when Shakespeare is involved. Everyone has their own pet theory, but this story is about the characters not the bard. Best book finding mystery I have listened to or read in a while.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just Ok for me

Having just read The Shadow of the Wind (a novel this book was compared to), I was so excited to read this, but I found it to be just OK. The narration is excellent and the story is fine, just not excellent.

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Pleasant light diversion

I didn't think that this book was terribly well written, but I did enjoy the small glimpse it gave of an antiquarian bookseller's world as well as the author's literary mystery. I listened to the book, and while the narrator's voice was quite beautiful, his pacing was terribly slow. I actually had to speed up the recording to one and a half times its normal speed--something I've rarely had to do.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A glorious ride!

This book has everything — adventure, romance, laughter, tears, more than one unique and intriguing mystery, and so much more! Book lovers, and those fascinated by British literary history, will be enchanted — and so will anyone who has ever loved. Not to be missed!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Thoroughly enjoyed it.

What did you love best about The Bookman's Tale?

It was a perfect combination of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. A masterful performance made the characters quite believable.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Amanda, Peter"s wife. She had a strong yet gentle nature.

Which character – as performed by John Bedford Lloyd – was your favorite?

Amanda

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me cry. I felt their love for one another and their deep connection. I also felt their sorrow.

Any additional comments?

I learned a little history about William Shakespeare, as well as some his contemporaries.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew Hunt for Clues

I consider three stars a generous number for The Bookman's Tale. Charlie Lovett had a crackerjack idea for a book mystery. He obviously did a goodly amount of research into books, bookmaking, bookbinding, bookselling, book restoration, and document forgery. This is all laid over atop what I must presume was Lovett's preexisting fondness for Elizabethan drama, and particularly for that of William Shakespeare. Lovett's good idea and subsequent research eat up all three stars and is, effectively, where the good news ends. Lovett seems to be simply not a very good writer. (I base this judgment tentatively on only this one of his several books.) The word "pedestrian" stuck in my mind after about 35 pages and stayed with me for the duration of the book. His dialogue is wooden. His attempts to write a sex scene is doubly wooden, and he seems to have a particular attachment to "nipples" as erogenous zones. The love story begins with a difficult-to-imagine mutural attraction that accompanies the obligatory sex scenes and occupies about half half the book without significantly advancing the story. Too often, it seems like filler, padding out a story that a more talented writer might have turned into a 600-page obsession novel. For a relatively short work, Lovell creates a large walk on/walk off cast of characters that clutter the story with forgettable names. The book consists of 55 short chapters that consist of "real time," "close to real time," and "historical time," all of which make natural storytelling sense until the time hopping creates discontinuities and, at about the halfway point, for me turned the story into a knotted yarn-ball. Oh, and there's a ghost...yes, but not a Hamlet's father, Banquo, etc. type ghost that advances the story, but a George and Marion Kirby/Topperesque type ghost that comes aboard simply like an occasional terse chorus but that contributes nothing to advancing the story and is intended to be endearing but serves only to pad the story out a bit more. The novel consists of 55 short chapters that time-hop between "real (current) time," "earlier current time (the love story)," "and historical time," which made good narrative sense for the novels central premise. In execution, however, the clutter resulted in a knotted yarnball that forced me to backtrack when I should not have had to. My Kindle text is annotated with numerous "augh," "AUGH!" and "AAAUUUGGGHHHH!"s. I nevertheless persevered, primariliy due to the overlap between Victorian painting and the dangling of an undiscovered literary relic of the greatest writer in the history of the English language. Unfortunately, what also kept popping into my mind was the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Lovett's text might easily have come out the Grosset and Dunlap story mill of numerous Franklin W. Dixons and Carolyn Keenes. The main story fired off like a timed string of Deus ex Machina and crazy-coincidence moments. I was happy for the brevity and a quick read. I should also add that the audiobook narrator I listened to while walking did was workmanlike but struggled with English accents and crashed and burned trying to reproduce 16th century tavern talk. In all, his contribution boiled down to one second-rate accent for the myrid number of English(wo)men in Lovett's story. I consider myself a hardcore recreational Bardolator and consequently took a measure of satisfaction from The Bookman's Tale, a pretty, allusive title for a bibliomanically-haunted novel, but my trip through it was pretty much a gripe-filled slog.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A good performance

The main character isn't likeable so it is always a literary challenge to bring out the likeable factor of a protagonist as such. Overall a decent read.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Bookmark mystery

Interesting and enjoyable. Dual stories we're equally interesting and the conclusion ties them satisfyingly together.