Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession



The Bookman's Tale is a literary mystery that spans centuries. As its core, the books explores the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. Most concur that Shakespeare is the single author but anti-Stratfordists claim that Francis Bacon or that Christopher Marlowe authored the plays. 

To its credit, The Bookman's Tale unmasks several additional puzzles. In the present century, Peter who is still grieving for his late wife, discovers a watercolor portrait of her in a rare book. What puzzles him is the watercolor portrait was taken during the Victorian era and it bears the initials "B.B."

A second thread, interwoven with the contemporary story, involves seventeenth century London characters.  A particularly avaricious bookseller acquires a rare edition of Pandosto--a source for Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale.

Binding these two stories together is a Victorian mystery involving the proper ownership of the Pandosto and other rare documents, some of which are cleverly forged.

A divisive feud among the Aldersons and Gardners results in animosity and vengeance. Hanging in the balance, is the Victorian era portrait of a woman brushing her hair and her mysterious connection to Peter's deceased wife.

Verdict:
The novel is tailor made for bibliophiles and mystery fans. If you like The Bookman's Tale, try Possession by A.S. Byatt.






Related books:
Byatt, A.S. Possession.
Cook, Judith. Roaring Boys: Shakespeare's Rat Pack.
Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World.
Bryson, Bill. Shakespeare.