by Matthew Pearl
"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 the arrival of Dickens's unfinished novel. 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 he hopes will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel's killer." (From the CD container.)
I'm going to exhibit my ignorance right now, so bear with me a moment. Until all the buzz about Dan Simmons' Drood came up a while back, I had no idea there was an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. Suddenly two books come out early this year only weeks apart using that very unfinished work as their premise. Does anyone know what brought this on? Just curious.
While The Last Dickens wasn't the most engrossing novel I've ever read, I did enjoy the creativity that went into it. I like books that spin off from classic novels and stories and seeing how various authors expand on the original and make it their own, how they make characters we thought we knew behave and events unfold. I have trouble thinking "outside the box", and I admire those who can do it so imaginatively.
I also enjoyed all the information about Charles Dickens' reading tour in the U.S. and the early days of the publishing industry, but what The Last Dickens mostly did was pique my interest in opium dens and the opium trade of that period. I must be in need of some dark and dingy reading material. And I must read what there is of the real Mystery of Edwin Drood!
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!