Short Notes: The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett & Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale is concerned with an old puzzle related to English literary studies: Was William Shakespeare really the author of the plays that we have in his name or were they written by someone else: Francis Bacon, The Earl of Oxford, Queen Elizabeth, or Christopher Marlowe?

American antiquarian bookseller and grieving widower, Peter Byerly, settles in England after the death of his wife, Amanda. One day while flicking the pages of an old book in a shop, he is shocked to find his wife’s face staring at him from an old Victorian water-colour. The quest to find the truth about this woman as also about a text (Robert Greene’s Pandosto) which ostensibly has Shakespeare’s hand-written notes in the margin leads to murder and mayhem before the unravelling of several mysteries though I couldn’t understand as to why a will was buried deep.

The book has an interesting premise but the way it is over-plotted with the author trying to do too much at the same time led to sheer boredom and so half-way through it I just wanted the book to end.


First Line: Wales could be cold in February.

Pub. Details: 2013. Richmond: Alma Books, 2013.
Pages: 379
Source: CL[823.09 L941B]
Other books read of the same author: None


I think everybody by now knows more or less about Gone Girl. About a wife who goes missing and the husband who is suspected of having killed her. I will simply say that I was very wary of reading this book after burning my fingers with The Girl on the Train, another book that had earned rave reviews but which turned out to be a b-i-g disappointment. Thankfully Gone Girl turned out to be better than Train Girl. For an interesting discussion of the novel and the movie, read this post @Tipping my Fedora.


First Line: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.

Publication Details: London: Phoenix, 2014
First Published: 2012
Pages: 466
Source: CL[823.9309 F679G]
Other books read of the same author: None

6 thoughts on “Short Notes: The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett & Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

  1. Thanks for the kind words Neeru – sounds like we have two ambitious books attempting with mixed results to transcend genre confined.


  2. I know exactly what you mean about being wary of a book, Neeru. I've had that experience, too. I'm glad you weren't thoroughly disappointed in Gone Girl. And I'm sorry to hear The Bookman's Tale didn't do it for you. Sometimes books really do try to do too much…


  3. Your comparison of Girl on a Train vs Gone Girl is interesting. I have no plans to read either, but I will keep this in mind should I get the opportunity to try Gone Girl. I think my problem with both books is with so much hype and so much written about them, I can't come to the books fresh, without preconceptions.


  4. It just tried too much, Margot. Literary mystery, romance, parental problems, social anxiety, cancer, death, bereavement, new romance, extra-marital affair, Elizabethan England, USA, UK, Mystery, Murder, Painting, Books, Perfect Love, Little-Boy-Lost….on and on it went


  5. Tracy, I found Gone Girl better than the other book coz after too many disappointments with bestsellers, I just didn't expect anything from the book. That worked in its favour:)


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