Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Review - The Bookman's Obsession

GoodReads says: 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 eighteenth-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. Published 5/28/13.

This book made me feel dumb. There were a lot of details about the main plot (the provenance of certain literary works, some that I'm not even sure actually existed) that I'm sure I didn't understand. I was hoping that the the book would focus on Amanda and the painting. 

Instead, the book focused on possible forgeries that would either prove or disprove that Shakespeare of Stratford actually wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare. There were many details about the passing down of books, about book binding, and about forgeries. The amount of characters was overwhelming at times, and I felt like I couldn't keep all the details straight. And, the actual beginning of the book, featuring the portrait that Peter finds, feels like a forgotten detail, even though it was in the opening of the book (and in the synopsis), implying that it would play a much bigger part in the overall story. 

I give this book 2.5 stars. If you're interested in a detailed, literary mystery, this book would definitely rate higher for you, and I would encourage you to give it a try. 

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