HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Loading...

The Book of Speculation (2015)

by Erika Swyler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1939610,050 (3.69)58
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 58 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
I loved this book!

It's the rare book that I have to bring myself to set down, to take a break, because I'm not ready to finish it yet.

Beautifully written. The characters felt real.

It takes place in both the present and the past.
Simon receives a book from a stranger with his grandmother's name it. He realizes that all the women in his family have drown and all on the same day.
He sister arrives in town, a nervous wreck about something, and it is way too close to the horrible date in his family's history.

In the past, we learn about the people in the book Simon received. There is a mute boy named Amos who joins a circus and the book is a journal from the circus.

The past and future tie together, as Simon pushes to find the connection and stop a possible curse from taking his sister away.

This is the first book from this author and I can't wait for more. This book was a great find! ( )
  Mishale1 | Dec 29, 2018 |
“Once you’ve held a book and really loved it, you forever remember the feel of it, its specific weight, the way it sits in your hand.” The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

There are only a few books I’ve encountered in my reading life that have left that kind of mark on me, and I am always surprised when a new one gets added to that category. The Book of Speculation is one of those unexpected gifts.

I didn’t go looking for it. I was browsing in B&N, killing time between some meetings a few days before my much anticipated July vacation, when I happened upon TBOS on the New Releases rack. I recognized the title as one I’d added to my GoodReads a couple weeks ago, and it looked promising. I liked the feel of it in my hand and I loved the way the text looked as I flipped through the pages, so I bought it and tossed it in my vacation book bag.

Days later, unpacked and at ease on the shore of a Northern NY lake, I opened TBOS and lost myself completely in this lovely story of a librarian, a bookseller, and a mysterious book that served to blend past and present, fairy tale and tragedy.

Simon Watson is a reference and archival librarian living in an ancient house perched precariously on the north shore of Long Island. Simon receives a mysterious book from an unknown bookseller just as he is let go from his position at the library. The bookseller has sent him the book because it has in it the name of one of Simon’s great-great grandmothers. The book piques his interest, as it recounts the movements of a traveling show which apparently included the women of his family, all of whom died by drowning on July 24, including his mother. Simon becomes obsessed with the idea that his sister, now also a performer in a traveling show, will suffer the same fate as July 24 comes closer. Using his library connections and his own research skills, he pieces together a lovely, tragic, and ultimately frightening story of love and loss that reconnects the family first established in that 18th century traveling show.

Swyler skillfully blends the past and present in a way that doesn’t jar the reader, but floats you gently along two parallel currents that eventually meet in a fury of a storm. There are plenty of unexpected events that surprise, delight, and sometimes frighten, keeping the readers attention throughout. Swyler’s use of water as a metaphor knitted into the fabric of the story successfully binds the past and present, and her details around circus and show life are wonderfully colorful.

I savored each sentence of TBOS, pacing my reading to draw it out over a few days because I loved it so. This is a book I will come back to again, without a doubt, and is one of those books I will remember long after this reading. In that way, The Book of Speculation joins Jane Eyre, Peace Like a River, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and a handful of others on my “Read and Read Again” shelf.

Highly recommended. ( )
  patriciau | Dec 27, 2018 |
This book is phenomenal - I loved it. It's amazing how the author uses location and weather as such strong characters to complement the cast of troubled family members. ( )
  mmaestiho | Sep 20, 2018 |
Simon Watson is a librarian in the town of Napawset, on Long Island. His house, inherited from his father, is crumbling around him, as is the land it stands on. His father, inexplicably, never did the basic things necessary to maintain it against the forces of erosion, and the problem is now unfixable on a librarian's income.

That's before Simon loses his job to budget cuts.

But in the midst of the crisis, he receives a book in the mail, from Martin Churchwarry, a dealer in old and rare books. The book apparently belonged to Simon's grandmother, or someone who knew her, and it's the log book of a traveling circus. This is where we get the first hints of the strange family history of Simon's late mother, Paulina. Paulina was a circus mermaid, able to hold her breath for impossibly long periods. Yet she died by drowning, a suicide. And so did her mother, and her grandmother... As Simon uncovers more and more of his family's past, he becomes frightened for his younger sister, Enola, who is also a circus performer, although she's a fortune teller, not a mermaid.

The story unfolds in alternating chapters, Simon's story of his uncovering of painful family secrets that will change his life and his sister's forever, and the story of the first of their mermaid ancestors, and the fortune teller who finds her wandering, lost, and leads her to the traveling circus.

Both stories are poignantly told, and Simon, Enola, Alice, and Doyle, in the present, and Amos, Evangeline, and Madam Ryzhkova, in the late 18th century, become real and compelling characters. The fantasy elements here are subtle but crucial, as Amos and Evangeline experience unfolding disaster, and Simon, Alice, and Enola learn secrets they never imagined about their own families.

Recommended.

I'm instituting a new policy of noting Hugo eligibility wherever relevant. This book is eligible for the Hugo Awards in 2016.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
I should know by now that the trope of "people discover patterns in family history, usually with the help of an inanimate object and then break the pattern" doesn't really do it for me. I've read lots of books with that trope, and find them to be really predictable. This book is no exception. It beats you over the head with symbolism (Tarot cards! the family house is falling into the sea!), and I knew how it was going to end about one fifth of the way into it. There are two intertwined timelines and stories - the circus storyline was evocative and interesting, if implausible. ( )
  Gwendydd | Aug 13, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
****
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

That quote, a golden oldie by George Santayana, about the nature of history, just kept coming to me while I was reading The Book of Speculation, the smart and beguiling new novel by Erika Swyler. This book isn’t about history with a capital H, but it’s a story about a family whose future and past are linked, by tragedy and love, and maybe by magic.

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone in his family’s house, which is slowly but surely threatening to crumble into the Long Island Sound. His parents are both dead. His mother, who worked in a circus as a mermaid, drowned in the waters his house overlooks. Simon lives a quiet life, trying to keep the house in one piece with the help of his family’s life long friend and neighbor, Frank. Meanwhile, he begins to drift into love with Frank’s daughter, Alice, who also works at the library. He worries all the while, about his younger sister, Enola, who ran off years ago, and now works for a carnival reading tarot cards, a talent that her mother Paulina also had.

Then Simon receives a book in the mail, sent by an antiquarian bookseller. Old, waterlogged, and damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a travelling carnival in the 1700’s, with many tales of strange and magical occurrences, including the death of a circus mermaid. Simon studies the book, and realizes that it may be about his family. During his research he discovers the fact that many generations of “mermaids” have died by drowning, on July the 24th, the day that his mother died. He also finds out that his sister, Enola, is coming home to visit him. When Enola arrives, followed by her boyfriend Doyle, another circus performer, events accelerate, and Simon, who has lost his job, delves deeper into the book to try and discover if his family is cursed, and if they are, can he find a way to save his sister Enola, and his own future.

There are a lot of things that I am skipping in this synopsis, to avoid spoilers, but I was very charmed by the way that Ms. Swyler mixed the the two stories together, often linking the threads with Tarot cards. The present narrative, told in the first person, and the past, told in the third, were both equally engaging. The ways that each narrative fed and supported the other showed that Ms. Swyler has a real feel for character and a flair for plot and technique. Near the end the present story, the struggles of Simon and Enola and Alice and Doyle, and their quest to end the cycle of tragedies that haunt them seemed to me more engaging than the stories from the past, but it was a quibbling matter. All of the characters in the present tale were so vivid, and their stories were so captivating to me that the tales from the past, became, well, the past. I don’t know if that was Ms. Swyler intent, but I found that it was entirely fitting, and an appropriate and satisfying end to a very good novel. For me, there is no speculation in that.

Review by: Mark Palm
Full Reviews Available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
 
The history of The Book of Speculation also involves a book within a book.

To submit her book to publishers, Swyler wanted to mimic for them the feeling Simon gets when the old book arrives at his home. She learned how to tea-stain pages and hand-bind books, then turned her manuscripts into, as she says in the same publisher’s interview, “little replicas of the mysterious book that Simon receives,” as it was important for her “to convey both the magic and the tactile pleasure that is an old book.”

She also illustrated her manuscript with sketches that would have appeared in Peabody’s book. Some of these sketches are in the published novel, though that wasn’t Swyler’s original intention: “When St. Martin’s said they were interested in illustrations, I foolishly latched on to this idea that an illustrator would be brought in and we’d have fantastic meetings over coffee where we’d discuss tarot cards and circus wagons.

“When I realized that St. Martin’s wanted my illustrations, I had a small heart attack.”

She need not have. The illustrations add charm, and make Peabody’s book seem all that much more real. So when you return this book to its shelf, be prepared to leave a little piece of your heart in a couple places.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/entertai...
 
Narrator Simon and his younger sister, Enola, grew up in an 18th-century house on a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound. Taking after her mother, a former circus performer who drowned herself when Simon was 7, Enola travels with a carnival as a tarot card reader. Simon is still living in their dangerously dilapidated family home when, out of the blue on one June day, he receives a book from an antiquarian bookseller, who had noticed Simon's grandmother's name inside. Soon Simon discovers a frightening pattern among his female ancestors, all unnaturally good swimmers, all drowning as young women on July 24.
added by smasler | editKirkus Reivews (Apr 1, 2015)
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Epigraph
Dedication
For Mom, there are no words.
First words
June 20th - Perched on the Bluff's edge, the house is in danger.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 125005480X, Hardcover)

"Dear Mr. Watson, I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it—Verona Bonn—led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family...."

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:32 -0400)

"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"--… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.69)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2 18
2.5 11
3 83
3.5 31
4 110
4.5 19
5 48

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 131,647,677 books! | Top bar: Always visible