The Sonnet Lover is Carol Goodman's fifth novel. The novel, like her previous novels, starts with a murder mystery and then focuses on a literary mystery that is closely connected to the murder mystery.
Dr. Rose Asher is a Comparative Literature professor at Hudson College, a private liberal arts school in New York City. What exactly Comparative Literature is, I'm not entirely sure... It is never really defined or explained in the book and I don't think we had Comparative Literature at Kutztown University. At a soiree that wraps up the college's student film contest, one of Asher's male students falls to his death. The police rule it a suicide, but Asher wonders if it was really an accident, a suicide or was it murder. Asher travels to Italy to search for the sonnets of a sixteenth century female poet who may or may not have been the Dark Lady of 28 of Shakespeare's sonnets. This female poet's sonnets hold the key to unlocking both the secrets of the present day's murders and the tragedy of the sixteenth century poet's fate. Many complicated twists of intrigue and ambition surround Asher's student's death, while many stand to profit from keeping the truth of what happened that night hidden.
As with Goodman's other novels, the main mystery doesn't concern the present day murders, but the mysteries of the distant past are the focus of the characters. It is often these historical literary mysteries that are most fascinating. Another recurring theme of Goodman's novels is literature and education--usually the narrator is a professor or teacher of literature. The present day mystery causing so much turmoil and death in the present day often springs from an enduring literary mystery that must be unravelled before the whole picture is revealed.
The Sonnet Lover is coming soon to the shelves of the Matthews Public Library's Adult Fiction section upstairs. I highly recommend you check it out when it does.
FYI: I just borrowed The Night Villa, Goodman's follow up to The Sonnet Lover, and will be posting a review for that novel in the future.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie