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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.
In late June Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller. The book tells the story of Amos and Evangeline, doomed lovers who worked in a traveling circus more than 200 years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes, sketches, and whimsical flourishes. 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? Is there a 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Barb Freman on 07-30-15
I lost myself in this book
Multi generational saga with bits office and folklore woven into the story line.
This book has become one of my favorites and would list it as a must read. If you liked, "Water For Elephants ", and "Night Circus", you will love "The Book of Speculation".
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
By withherownwings on 07-20-15
traveling carnival, tarot, love, fate, secrets
A thoroughly enjoyable book that I savored and kept making excuses NOT to listen to as I got closer and closer to the end. The story starts off as contemporary fiction, and slowly a sort of magic creeps in around the edges until the book becomes what I'd call magical realism. It's akin to Alice Hoffman's stories or Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle in that way. The themes were practically custom-selected for me: librarians, a traveling carnival, tarot card readers, a family with tragic history that is slowly revealed, an ancient manuscript that is the key to it all. The plot of the book is low but twisty, and I loved guessing the connections as they were hinted at and exposed. The setting of the book is very atmospheric too - a New England seaside small town, where the houses are literally being pulled back into the sound by time and weather. The characters are small town personalities, where everyone knows everyone but some secrets lurk unspoken beneath the surface. The emotional feel of the book is lovely and delicate, melancholy and dark. Love is all powerful, but not always as a redemptive force.
The audiobook was beautifully narrated by Ari Fliakos. I highly recommend this book to fans of Maggie Stiefvater, Erin Morgenstern, Alice Hoffman, and Neil Gaiman's writing styles.
61 of 64 people found this review helpful