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Review & Book Tour: The Last Dickens

The Last Dickens
Matthew Pearl
Pub. Date: October 06, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 416pp
ISBN-13: 9780812978025
ISBN: 0812978021

The blurb from the publisher:

Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens’s untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to await Dickens’s unfinished novel–The Mystery of Edwin Drood. But when Daniel’s body is discovered by the docks and the manuscript is nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel that will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel’s killer.

The Short of It:

A literary adventure of the most enjoyable kind. The Last Dickens is a historical literary thriller that includes a good dose of mystery, lots of bookish references and a smattering of romance all rolled into one.

The Rest of It:

The Last Dickens is a fictionalization that focuses on the unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Although the novel started out a tad slow for me, it didn’t take long for me to get into the story or its characters. As I was reading, I found myself thinking about silent films from the early 1900’s. Why, you ask? Well, the villains in those films were these creepy, shadowy apparitions that appeared out of nowhere. There is much of that in this novel as well. Additionally, the lure of the opium dens and their smoky interiors add to the mysterious air of the novel. Films from that era had to rely on setting and the setting that Pearl paints, draws the reader in.

However, what I really enjoyed were the passages about Dickens himself. Pearl does an excellent job of making Dickens an accessible, compassionate human being. The eccentricities of the author shine through, yet he is a bit softer around the edges…more likable I guess. Earlier in the year I read Drood by Dan Simmons. In that novel, the sections that dealt with Dickens and his American tour seemed a tad tedious to get through. I didn’t find that to be the case with The Last Dickens. Pearl takes the time to focus on Dickens as a man, and not just his readings alone. I felt that this alone helped the reader understand how much this man was loved by his readers.

Another item of importance is that it is not necessary for you to have read any of Dickens’s work. Doing so certainly adds to the experience but The Last Dickens does not require it of the reader. Overall, this reading adventure was well worth the trip and I look forward to reading Pearl’s other works.

Matthew is coming by for another visit on Wednesday, September 30th for a guest post. Be sure to check it out because it will also include a chance to win the book!

If you’d like to read more about Matthew Pearl, click here to visit his website.

To purchase the book, visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or an independent bookseller of your choice. The paperback will be released on October 6th!

Check out the rest of Matthew’s tour stops here.

A big ‘thank you’ to TLC Book Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour.

Thanks to Random House for providing me with this review copy.