Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.
One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.
I read this book to fill the Relics & Curiosities square of my 2019 Halloween Bingo Card.
This reading experience definitely suffered from my own fit of ennui, a mini-reading-slump that marred my life during mid-October. I was half way through this book and really enjoying it when I suddenly just bumped to a halt and had an extremely difficult time getting rolling again. That said, this book should have been right up my alley--the main character is a librarian, the relic in question is a wonderful old handwritten book, and the exploration of the main character’s genealogy is a major part of the plot. All of those factors are usually like catnip to me, a retired special collections library cataloguer. I can’t explain the waning of interest, but I know that it was more about me than about the book.
If you’ve enjoyed this book, I would suggest that you also check out Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy, including Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. This series also includes a relic (a stone which was originally wrapped in a snowball & thrown) and circus elements. I am inordinately fond of these three novels and in the spirit of fairness, I may try The Book of Speculations again in the future to see if I like it better when I’m in a more receptive mood.