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The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation

Book - 2015 | First edition
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"Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home--a house, perched on the edge of a bluff, that is slowly crumbling toward the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a traveling carnival reading tarot cards, and seldom calls. On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller. The book tells the story of Amos and Evangeline, doomed lovers who lived and worked in a traveling circus more than two hundred years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes, sketches, and whimsical flourishes; and his best friend and fellow librarian, Alice, looks on in increasing alarm. Why does his grandmother's name, Verona Bonn, appear in this book? Why do so many women in his family drown on July 24? Could there possibly be some kind of curse on his family--and could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in six years, risk the same fate in just a few weeks? In order to save her--and perhaps himself--Simon must try urgently to decode his family history while moving on from the past. The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books and family and magic"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250054807
Branch Call Number: F SWYLE-E
Characteristics: viii, 339 pages ; 25 cm


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STPL_JessKovs Sep 16, 2019

This unique little book filled my heart with happiness. Librarians, magic realism, dark history, + a solid family secret.

This book may not be for everyone but it was perfect for me.

Jul 07, 2019

Certainly a different storyline, but ultimately couldn't quite go along with the magical realism. Props to the author for writing something so immersive.

LPL_LeahN Jul 02, 2019

A librarian with a troubled past makes a chance discovery of a one of a kind antique book that holds his family's dark history, and possibly the key to saving his sister's life. This is a really solid speculative read. Beautifully written, sort of spooky, with characters you spend a lot of time trying to figure out. The chapters alternate between present day, following the protagonist, Simon, and the distant past where things all started to go sour for the women in Simon's family tree.

JCLJoshN May 22, 2019

It seems obvious that a librarian would like a story about a librarian, but the truth is, a lot of books, movies, and TV shows can get it wrong when it comes to what it's like to be a librarian. This novel gets it right. That's the first plus. A mysterious traveling circus? Another plus. A possible conspiracy involving the protagonist's family history? Yet another plus. Tarot cards playing a significant role? Totally a plus. Ambiguous supernatural aspects? You better believe that's a plus! All in all, this is a magnetic, mysterious story, not as lyrical and lush as The Night Circus, but of a similar vein.

Jan 29, 2019

Such an interesting and good read. Kudos to this author!

ArapahoeLisa Nov 18, 2018

Simon Watsons life is falling apart. He's lost his job due to budget cuts at his library. His house is in serious disrepair and is slowly but surely sliding off a cliff. His capricious, tarot card reading sister, is planning an unexpected and untimely visit and his relationships with lifelong family friends are suddenly in jeopardy. The complications in Simons life are only magnified with the arrival of a two-hundred-year- old account ledger from a traveling circus, which coincidentally, contains his late grandmothers name. As Simons obsession with the ledger intensifies and his life continues to disintegrate, he becomes increasingly aware that his sister’s life and possibly his own depend on his ability to decode the ledger. It’s fast pace, historical references and interesting characters make this dark and moody book, about everything from librarians to carnival mermaids, a fun thoughtful read.

JCLHebahA May 13, 2018

I'm a sucker for moody, atmospheric books, and this story drew me right in--a mysterious manuscript, a whisper of magic, family secrets and tragedy, a carnival, and a puzzle to figure out before tragedy strikes the protagonist's unlucky family.

JessicaGma Mar 12, 2018

I liked the story but I get where others have said this isn't quite a cracking read. Despite that, I did find the characters compelling. Simon is unable to let go of the past for many good reasons, although his sister Enola is better at letting go (for the most part). How the story ties together is quite surprising, and yet not, which suits this tale.

Aug 17, 2017

Simon is sort of hanging on to his heritage; living in his ancestral home that is swiftly crumbling into the sea, reluctantly in love with his childhood friend/next door neighbor, and directionless as far as the future goes -- an issue since he had to be laid off from his job in the library. He receives a mysterious old book in the mail one day, and is launched into an exploration of his family's history with traveling circuses. his mother was the last of a long line of "mermaids," performers who could hold their breath for a very, very long timed. The book appears to be a journal, one of the traditional records of traveling circuses from long ago. From it, he learns that on a particular day, every female in his family for generation have drowned, despite all being "mermaids" and thus excellent swimmers and breath-holders. Simon wants to keep this from happening to his sister, and the particular drowning day is just around the corner.

There's a love story woven into this book, and a mystery, and a touch of supernatural tarot magic. I enjoyed it, but it just didn't bring anything special to the experience of reading it. It wasn't a "page-turner;" the prose didn't sing; I was interested in what would happen next and what would eventually happen, but only mildly. It was a bit too dark to be considered light reading, but it really only skirted the darkness. I enjoyed it but would not recommend it.

coloradobuck Feb 21, 2017

If you are not into tarot cards and a ton of mentioning about death and curses, I would pass on this book although the "holding your breath under water" parts as well as the family piece of the novel were were endearing.

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