I’m pretty sure this only serves to further verify I am a bibliophile, which isn’t at ALL shocking. I requested and received a copy of this book from the publisher after previewing it on NetGalley and received no compensation in return for my honest opinion.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel. It was a quick and fascinating read. However, I had some issues (and this may be from the fact this was a digital ARC copy) with the books structure. The book is set up as three intertwining stories: the original story/timeline of Robert Green’s Pandosto (1592-1879) (Wikipedia link), the beginning of Peter and Amanda’s relationship (early-to-mid 1980s – 1993/4) and the current events of the story (1995).You can imagine how this would be a bit confusing, especially as I never read anything about a book before I jump into it!
I think a good portion of my struggle came from the poor conversion process from NetGalley to Kindle (.azw) and so the chapters sometimes didn’t feel clearly delineated – but this didn’t affect my “rating” or review, just something to ponder.)
Although it took a while for me to warm up to it, the three-part story ultimately worked out and wove together seemingly disparate elements across time (and space?). There were very few characters in the novel, which I’m sure helped in the writing process. However, this made it a lot easier to figure out the whodunit aspect sooner than expected, but Lovett managed to spring a few twists on the story which kept me interested! The suspense portion of the novel wasn’t as great as it could’ve been and I think this is because it was diluted by the multiple stories.
Where this book differed from other books I’ve read about books, including most recently The Antiquarian and I’m sure there are other books like it, is that it included book making/preserving techniques which was fascinating! The brief introduction to the tools and techniques was fascinating and the scenes where Peter learned how to rebind an older book and why he was doing it was perfect.
It made me want to go visit some of the rare book collections and stores here in Boston, so I most definitely will need to do that (and I’m sure blog about it) in the near future. Seriously, I should probably go back to school in the future to be an archivist or library specialist because the idea of getting to work with and share old books is like a future dream for me.
Recommendation: Definitely read this if you’re a bibliophile or a Shakespeare lover. It might not be as interesting to non-bibliophiles non-Shakespeare lovers, because the suspense and the historical fiction aren’t quite as powerful as they’d need to be to reach across specific genres. I think I’ll give Lovett another go as he’s tackled Jane Austen in his second novel, First Impressions.
Opening Line: “Wales could be cold in February.”
Closing Line: “Two minutes later, he was striding toward the station, the Pandosto under his arm, and the warm summer breeze sweeping him toward the center of life.” (Whited out.)