Book Review: The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

The Bookman's Tale

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

Pub Date: May 28, 2013
Rating: 5/5


Every once in a while you find a book that so perfectly explores your interests that you’re overwhelmed; the kind of book that upon reading the description any one who knows you is bound to remark “Oh that’s a book for Alexandra.” The Bookman’s Tale is that book for me.

Peter Byerly is an antiquarian book dealer who has just lost his wife, the heiress Amanda. When Peter picks up and moves to England to escape his grief he finds himself in the middle of a centuries old quest for proof of Shakespeare’s authorship. Along the way Lovett gives glimpses into Elizabethan England, 18th century auctions and the book repair trade.

I’ve been interested in Shakespeare for a long time. I remember the first night I went to visit what would become my high school: there was an illustrious English teacher who spoke about Shakespearean authorship. Though I would quickly learn that Oxfordians are in the minority, it rocked my world to think that Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare. I think that I went into an English degree partly because of that ten-minute talk!

Though it’s no surprise a librarian-in-training likes books about books, it wasn’t until I was putting together a list of read-a-like books that I realized I have quite the little obsession going. Here are a few books and movies that share an obsession with books:


The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Possession by A.S. Byatt
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl


Shakespeare in Love
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

If you’re anything like me, after reading The Bookman’s tale you’ll be yearning for more information about antiquarian books. Here’s a few that caught my eye:

A Degree of Mastery: A Journey through Book Arts Apprenticeship by Annie Tremmel Wilcox
Contested Will by James Shapiro
The English Country House by Mary Miers
Shakespeare by Bill Bryson
The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Pandosto by Robert Greene
Books on the Move: Tracking Copies Through Collections and the Book Trade by Robin Myers

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. The opinions expressed above are my own.

5 responses to “Book Review: The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett”

  1. […] I’ve been loving historical novels — Above All Things, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, The Bookman’s Tale. When The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel showed up in my mailbox last week I knew I had […]

  2. […] already reviewed The Bookman’s Tale a few weeks ago but now for something completely different…a video! I had the good fortune of […]

  3. […] classmate and coworker Alexandra gave the book a fantastic review, which prompted me to enter the giveaway, but based on the […]

  4. I really liked this one too. I kept thinking of the Poe Shadow while reading it. This one succeeded where the the Poe Shadow failed.

  5. Don’t Forget:

    Interred with their Bones
    The Poe Shadow
    The Last Dickens
    The Thirteenth Tale
    The Last Bookaneer
    Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore

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