I received a copy of The Bookman’s Tale in the February box from Ninja Book Box which had the theme Shakespearean Mystery. I was interested to read this one due to its intriguing premise and its book loving protagonist.
“I know it might seem silly to some people, but it’s the way I want to change the world. To bring books together with people who will love them and preserve them for the next generation.”
The Bookman’s Tale is a story of mystery with literature at its heart. Peter Byerly is an antiquarian bookseller who relocates to the English countryside from his home in the US in the aftermath of his wife’s untimely death. He hopes this new home will give him the opportunity to revive his passion for books, and to help him rediscover the joys of life without his wife by his side. However, within a book detailing Shakespearean forgeries he finds a portrait of a woman who bears a remarkable resemblance to his late wife, Amanda. Immediately questions are raised for Peter – who is this woman who resembles his wife, and how did her picture come to be here? So begins Peter’s journey to track down the origins of the portrait, and one in which he delves further into the past to uncover the secrets behind the books and the portrait, uncovering some remarkable things about Shakespeare’s past…
The story switches back and forth through time, alternating between Peter in the nineties, Peter in the eighties when he and Amanda first met, and also to the Shakespearean era. I liked the different timeframes used and it helped to build up a picture of events as Peter discovers them. There was plenty of intrigue within this novel with the mystery surrounding the painting and the forgeries and who is responsible, and also how the past can come back to haunt those in the present. Alongside the mystery elements there was also plenty of romance as we see Peter and Amanda meet and see how the two became so crucial in one and others lives. Whilst I admit I am not the biggest fan of romance in books I did like to discover how Peter’s confidence grew with Amanda by his side, and how this quiet young bookseller who struggles socially is given a new lease of life. It was also moving to see how Amanda’s death impacted Peter, and how she remained ever present in his thoughts as he continued in his search for answers. But for me, my favourite parts of this story were those where the restoration of books and book binding were featured. As someone who loves to keep their books in pristine condition, I found these elements particularly interesting and informative.
The Bookman’s Tale is an intriguing read which I am sure would appeal to anyone interested in the mysteries surrounding rare and historic books. It is a story filled with mystery, romance and conflicts inspired by the golden age of Shakespeare.