The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett
Here is a tale for booklovers - not just avid readers, but lovers of the actual physical books, the pages. the ink, the covers, and the bindings. It was a delicious read. I loved it.
The story alternates between three time periods: the 1800s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. In 1983 Peter Byerly is a college student and an intern in the university library's Special Collections department where he is learning to catalogue and restore rare books, and where there is a girl he would love to approach if only he had the nerve.
The 1990s timeline is the current one, in which Peter is coping with the death of his beloved wife and in which documents are uncovered that could provide proof of Shakspeare of Stratford being indeed the true author of the plays bearing the name of William Shakespeare. They are documents revealing long held secrets and truths that some people will not want published. To what lengths might they go to prevent them from becoming known?
The 1800s timeline gives the background to the current story. As Peter tries to unravel the mysteries of the documents he's found, this timeline tells us what actually happened between the now long-dead writers and book sellers and, what they did with the manuscripts.
Besides offering an interesting story this book shows the reader something of the often clandestine and occasionally dangerous rare book business. Rumours and secrets are everywhere but when someone has the documents to prove or disprove those rumours, then things get interesting. The book also offers well written characters, believable and likable with their honest mix of flaws and virtues. In fact, the entire book is well written. It's wonderful when a story is so well told that you actually forget you're reading and instead feel like you're living the adventure. I'm sure book lovers everywhere would love this one.