[ARC Review] A Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

Title: The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession 
Author: Charlie Lovett
Forma: Kindle Edition
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Shakespeare
Publisher: Viking Adult
ISBN: 0670026476
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

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I passed by The Bookman’s Tale several times on my weekly trips to the bookstore.  I picked it up, read the description and a few passages, and found it intriguing. I was perusing NetGalley one day and noticed the publisher was offering it, so I requested it. Thankfully my request was approved and I received an uncorrected proof from the publisher.

I really wanted to like this book.  It has murder, romance, sex, and the Shakespeare authorship controversy, so how could anything go wrong?  For me there were just a few too many things going on and a few times I got lost and when I tried to go back and get un-lost I couldn’t.

In The Bookman’s Tale there are three timelines.  The first is London, 1995, which is the novels present day.  We meet Peter Byerly a bibliophile, an antiquarian, a restorer of books, and most recently a widower.  A second time line is in Ridgefield, North Carolina, 1983 and the third is in Southwark, London, 1592.

The Bookman’s Tale is a very well researched novel and it definitely has some suspenseful elements, but it took a bit to long to get there.  I stopped and started this book several times as it didn’t engage me.  At the very beginning I was pulled in when Peter finds a 100 year old watercolor tucked away in book, but then was jerked out with the switch in timeline and I never really engaged thereafter.  The novel does pick up about halfway through, but not enough for me to really care about any of the characters.

Lovett includes a bit of adventure, but he doesn’t follow through on telling the adventure part of the story.  Most of the characters are flat and did very little to move the plot forward not that it would have really mattered as the plot is pretty flimsy.

I am not much on reading romance, but if Lovett had just stopped there it would have been a really good novel.  I didn’t care for the Southwark, London timeline at all.  It seemed to be filler.   If Lovett had shown Peter dealing with the loss of his beloved Amanda, the quest to find out who the woman in the watercolor was, and his budding relationship with Liz that would have been sufficient.

The ending of The Bookman’s Tale was tied up in a fancy red bow in which everyone lives happily ever after.  Not quite what one might expect after all the high drama.

I give The Bookman’s Tale a 3 1/2 out of 5 because Lovett wove in the Shakespeare authorship controversy. It would have rated higher if I hadn’t gotten so confused at times.

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