The Book Lover's Tale by Ivo Stourton

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The Book Lover's Tale by Ivo Stourton

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Murder, books, and a very contemporary talkative style make this destined to be a book-group standby for years to come.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Black Swan
ISBN: 9780552773874

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Matt will admit that his writing career failed, and so he had to join his wife in interior design, where he can use his love of books to arrange - at a cost - the contents, design and most importantly the colours, of upper class people's home libraries for them. He'll concede that it's a good way to get into the houses, and beds, of rich women, such as his latest flame, Claudia. But why is this, his confession, talking of murder?

And talk it does - his narration of his tale is eminently chatty and warm. He can get us furrowing our brow a couple of times when conveying something too complex for his idiom, but he is excellent company, and can carry the frivolous, the deep and profound and philosophical, and one great sex joke, switching from one to another with hardly a bat of an eyelid.

The depth of content given such a light touch is what will sell this book - plus it's about literature, in a way, as Matt and Claudia spend time together in their own two-person book group. I expected, given the blurb, something alluding to books in the Jasper Fforde way, but this no less a success for just name-dropping, and with rounded characters it's easy to see why these people do - or did not - read, and what the process comes to mean to them.

So yes, this might sniff of pandering to book group buyers, but I still got a lot of enjoyment from it. It has a great style, fine plotting, and a matter-of-fact presentation of London, giving just enough background personality to add to the story. And with its mix of human intimacy and a wider, more profound content, and with it focussing on Oxbridge graduates making fools of themselves, I could see Stourton turning into a David Lodge for his generation. No bad thing at all - that fact, or this book. The Matts of this world could soon wish it onto the shelves of copious Claudias.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

The last great book group read about book groups was, of course, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

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Buy The Book Lover's Tale by Ivo Stourton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Book Lover's Tale by Ivo Stourton at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Book Lover's Tale by Ivo Stourton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Book Lover's Tale by Ivo Stourton at


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