On reading the opening sentences of this book my heart sank, ‘not going to like this one.’ Manfully I read on, at the fourth paragraph beginning, “but the story can’t do it alone…” my mind had changed. This is an excellent book, one for the Booker, I would say. Stylish and literary, written in first person, this is the story of a rather unlikeable man called Matt de Voy. He is shallow and pretentious and seems to have no positive qualities. His downfall is falling in love.
Matt and his wife are partners in an interior design business. In fact he lives off his wife yet feels he is superior to everyone he meets. He advises rich clients who want a library, providing them ready-made, guaranteed to give the right impression of content and style. Matt wrote one book and failed to produce a second. He looks down on his clients and takes every opportunity to have affairs with any of their wives that he takes a liking to.
But then he meets Claudia Swanson, stunningly beautiful and intelligent. Matt becomes obsessed with Claudia and produces reasons at every opportunity to visit her. He becomes delusional, seeing himself as a tragic hero from one of the Greek classics. Will Matt's obsession drive him over the edge? Is he a murderer?
Despite disliking Matt, maybe because of it, I wanted to read on and discover what happened. This is also a book about books and literature, with allusions to classical and contemporary literary works. The Book Lover’s Tale is a remarkable book, a page-turner.