The latest edition of the magazine I am delighted to be a contributor for has its latest issue available now. And it has had a name change! It’s still nb but that now stands for nudge-book to tie it in with its associated website (www.nudge-book.com) where I am the “Community Voice” for the Book Hugger section.
You may think, oh here he goes, pushing a magazine he is writing for and okay, I hold my hands up, but I was reading nb long before I was a contributor and it is the only UK magazine out there for readers and reading groups so it is well worth supporting. In this issue we say goodbyes to our editor and publisher, Guy Pringle, who has done a fantastic job in ensuring such a magazine can survive in this digital age and after 17 years at the helm has decided to start his well-earned retirement. We are all sure that it will continue to go from strength to strength under Mel Mitchell who has also worked tirelessly on the publication for a number of years.
If you head over to the nudge bookshop you can purchase a copy (or take out a subscription). This edition has features a Crime Fiction Supplement and much else besides. There’s an interview with Graeme Macrae Burnet whose Man Booker shortlisted “His Bloody Project” I so loved. There’s an interview with Clare Mackintosh who became the fastest selling new crime writer in 2015 with “I Let You Go”. Her latest, “I See You” is available as a Recommended Read and is available free for nb readers from the nudge website (you just pay p&p).
There’s a couple of exclusives from me as well. You can find my interview with Charlie Lovett whose “Lost Book Of The Grail” and “The Bookman’s Tale” both delighted me this year and there is a feature on TV adaptations. You can also find out the NB books of the year as voted for by readers. Just one spoiler here as I am so delighted that my five star rated “Owl Song At Dawn” by Emma Claire Sweeney was voted the Book Hugger Book of The Year.
There does seem to be more content in each edition of nb, so if you haven’t seen it for a while give it a go. The directory at the back of the magazine features reviews of a whole range of books which might have escaped your notice. If your “To Be Read” list is looking a little lacklustre and out of date then let nudge books give you a nudge…………….
I recently read Charlie Lovett’s 2013 debut “The Bookman’s Tale” and was impressed by his successful combination of a passion for books with an adventure genre novel. His latest, his third, is a much quieter work but once again this ex-antiquarian bookseller makes a love for old books a central theme and ends up with a novel every bit as entertaining.
He has taken the brave step of setting it in the cathedral town of Barchester, a fictional location familiar to Trollope fans but by bringing it to the present day there are merely echoes of those classic novels. Central character Arthur Prescott is the main reason I enjoyed this. A frustrated English lecturer at the University, with a penchant of PG Wodehouse he is a man without religious beliefs who attends church services a number of times a day. From a child he has been obsessed with Arthurian myths and the legend of the Holy Grail and his grandfather suggested there could be links with these and their home town. Arthur’s life changes when another Grail devotee, an American woman, arrives to digitize the cathedral’s manuscripts. The dilemma over the future of our important works is a fascinating theme of the novel and would create much discussion for reading groups.
In many ways this book is the antidote to the Dan Brown-type adventure novel suggested by the title. There’s no globe-trotting, the puzzles are intellectual and carried out in the Cathedral library. We are teased throughout with moments in history where the keepers of Barchester’s secrets overlap and with sections from a Guide Book Arthur is writing about the cathedral.
If this sounds a little too restrained there’s the delights of Arthur, at odds with changes in modern academia and his group of code-busting pals, the Barchester Bibliophiles who keep the momentum going in this inaction action quest novel. I ended up enjoying this even more than his slightly more genre-aware debut. Reading about a genuine love for books is always a delight.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Charlie Lovett about this book for nb magazine (now retitled as nudge books rather than new books). This can be found in the edition which is out now (nb 92). This can be ordered by following this link.
The Lost Book Of The Grail was published by Alma Books in March 2017. Many thanks for nudge for allowing me to interview the author and the publishers for the review copy.
Here is a debut novel that I missed out on when it was first published in 2013 and I’m delighted to put that right as it is a thoroughly entertaining read. Combining the adventure and puzzle-solving of a superior example of the “Da Vinci Code” genre with old books certainly gives it an original slant. I’ve never read a novel with so much information on book binding and preservation and which has got across so well the appeal of old books.
Author Charlie Lovett is also a playwright, and significantly, for the authenticity of this work, a former antiquarian bookseller and this love for the quest of a miraculous find which is surely present in all those who deal with old and precious books certainly permeates this novel.
American Peter Byerly is drawn into the world of books when he is working at his University’s library and finds his way into Special Collections. He’s also drawn, for the first time, into connecting with another human being when he meets Amanda, another student, in the library. Lovett’s tale switches from their courtship to Peter adapting to the early death of his wife some years later and a much older tale of a book which would provide ultimate proof that Shakespeare wrote his plays. A discovery of a portrait inside a book in a shop on Hay-on-Wye provides the link for these strands.
It works well as an adventure tale but it is more than this as it also works as a love story and an account of obsession, in this case towards book collecting. It features (and Dan Brown and some others of his ilk need to take note here) well rounded characters. There’s a clear motive behind every action and we’re not hurtled around the world in wearying globe-trotting fashion. True, the use of coincidence does begin to pile up, but then the author’s following a time-honoured tradition headed by Hardy and Dickens who were both masters of coincidence to further the plot. Some of the love scenes are also a little clunky but the two young people have never really related that well to anyone before so perhaps its applicable for the characters if the early days of their relationship seem a little stilted. I was won over by the obvious devotion for all-things-book-related and by the skill in which this perhaps rather unsexy passion has been incorporated into what is rather a thrilling read.
The Bookman’s Tale was published by Alma Books in 2013.