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The Last Dickens (2009)

The Last Dickens (2009)

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3.54 of 5 Votes: 4
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1400066565 (ISBN13: 9781400066568)
Random House (NY)

About book The Last Dickens (2009)

I will hold my hand up to two things at the start of this review. Firstly I am drawn to fiction based on other fiction, and secondly I'm not a big Dickens fan. For various reasons I just don't find him an interesting read.However I can't deny his impact as a novelist at a time when reading as a past time was only just reaching the masses. And so this book looked intriguing.Primarily set immediately after the death of the famous author, having completed exactly half of the installments of his latest book - The Mystery of Edwin Drood - James Osgood, the junior partner in his American publishers is sent to England to try to track down any other parts of the manuscript.However dark forces are afoot; there are two murders related to the Dickens papers in short order​ and Osgood is attacked on the ship to England. Clearly someone does not want any more of Drood to be published.Pearl has taken one of the greatest literary mysteries of all (there really are no clues about how Drood was supposed to conclude) and wrapped it in another fictional conundrum. He has clearly researched all of the details very well and uses real people - including Osgood and Dickens himself- along with fictional characters to tell the story. This gives the plot a certain solidity because so much of it is based in reality, with the fabricated parts showing through the cracks.The narrative moves between 1870 and Osgood's quest, to India at the same time where Frank Dickens (son of Charles) is investigating drug smuggling and to 1868 when Dickens is performing a reading tour of America.The plot is more-or-less highly plausible, just some coincidental points that require a little suspension of disbelief. The writing is excellent throughout, highly descriptive and particularly good at capturing the personalities of the characters (as would be expected given how carefully this has been researched). There are several action scenes at the book progresses and these are handled well. The villains are unmasked in classical style, gloating with our heroes apparently doomed only for the tables to be turned.Honestly I was expecting this to be reasonably interesting, highlighting aspects of Dickens' life and death with a little light murder mystery thrown in. In the end I would call this nothing less than a triumph and will definitely be looking to read more of Pearl's work.It's still not tempted me to read any Dickens, though... A fascinating, ingenious novel. Pearl weaves a tale of mystery and intrigue involving a search for the last installments of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens's unfinished novel. Fields and Osgood, his American publishers, have held off their competitors by being Dickens's publishing firm in North America. Before the protections of international copyright protocols unauthorized, pirate versions of popular English novels meant that those who could first produce legitimate versions had an advantage over knock-off competitors. Fields and Osgood, sensing that their profitable niche as the principal publishers of New England writers is waning, relied on their relationship with Dickens as a foundation of their business. Dickens's novels were wildly popular and were first released in chapter installments to his eager readership. When Dickens died halfway through Drood, all publishers were anxious to get their hands on the last six chapters, if they existed.Ripley Osgood, a firm's partner, embarks on a search in the US and England to find the ending of the work, or to gain intelligence from anyone with whom Dickens might have shared his intended ending. His quest encounters many dangerous characters, including several who are double agents of a sort. The path of investigation takes him into scenes that appeared in Drood, especially involving the opium trade between England, China and America. There are violent encounters with enemies throughout and twists and turns at every stage.Ripley is accompanied in his searches by Rebecca Sand, a bookkeeper of the firm. The firm has just taken the radical step of hiring female staff and the growing revelation of her competence as the story progresses is a preview of the rise of women in business. There is also a budding romance between Ripley and Rebecca told within the constraints and impediments associated with the Victorian era.The tale of the search is intermingled with flashbacks of Dickens's final American lecture tour. Here too are many odd characters whose obsession with Dickens creates some havoc and much interest. Dickens's personality is revealed as is the nature of rabid following he engendered. Like other strands in the novel, the chapters about Dickens mix in real personages with fictional characters.The novel emulates the style of Dickens novels in a very satisfying and clever manner. The plot slowly unfolds the lurk of mysterious forces influencing actions and events just outside the ken of the protagonists while leading to denouement that ties everything together.This novel, like Pearl's other works -- The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow -- is a lot of fun.

Do You like book The Last Dickens (2009)?

This was a great story and a great overview of the publishing world in the 1800s. I recommend it.

found the start confusing but once I got into it this was a fun read

It was a slow start but picked up in the end.

Very enjoyable.

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