Picking up where his runaway bestseller Back Bay left off, William Martin returns to Boston to bring the history of Harvard University vividly to life. There are many Harvard legends. One of the oldest is the tale of how John Harvard's parents were brought together by none other than William Shakespeare, who then gave them a gift of an original manuscript upon the birth of their son. Now, Peter Fallon, the Harvard historian introduced in Back Bay, teams with other memorable characters from that novel and sets out to find those priceless pages that were thought to have been lost in the Harvard Hall fire of 1764. Mixing fact and fiction, blending the past and present, this riveting treasure hunt unveils the story of Harvard as it grows from a one-room schoolhouse to America's most famous university.
Martin, who introduced antiquarian Peter Fallon in his debut novel Back Bay (1979), brings him back for a second quest in this sprawling bibliomystery, which traces the tightly interlaced histories of the fictional Wedge family and Harvard University. Fallon, a proud Harvard grad, assists in the university's annual fund-raising appeals. One call, to Ridley Wedge Royce, lands him not a donation but a tip. The intriguing possibility that the Wedge family once owned a rare and unknown Shakespeare manuscript-a text purportedly linking Will Shakespeare and Harvard's founder-is enough to hook Fallon. But others are on the same scent and willing to go to any lengths to root out the manuscript if it still exists. How it came into the possession of the Wedges, and what happened to it next is gradually revealed as Martin spins through 300 years of American history-from the Salem witch trials and the Boston Tea Party to the Civil War and up to the radical late 1960s-telling a tale of Harvard the institution growing from a tiny establishment under beastly first master Nathaniel Eaton to become America's premier university. Fallon's search takes a back seat to the historical material, but the novel provides good entertainment and copious Crimson lore. Agent, Robert Gottlieb. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Grand Central Publishing
November 30, 2004
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