Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Last Dickens
The Last Dickens, the latest novel by Matthew Pearl, focuses on Charles Dickens’s final, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With the death of Mr. Dickens, what will become of his final manuscript? Is it really unfinished? If yes, did Dickens leave behind any clues as to how the novel would end? If no, where are the remaining pages? These are a few of the questions that arise at the start of the novel. When James Osgood, Dickens’ American publisher, fails to obtain the first installment of Drood, he travels to London to see if these questions can be answered. This sounds like a simple task; however, I don’t believe that simple is a word in Mr. Pearl’s vocabulary. He creates an air of mystery surrounding these missing pages. Peppered with actual events, thievery, drugs and murder, the novel takes the reader on a journey of speculation – one plausible scenario regarding the fate of Drood – if curious, you must read for yourself. The story was broken down into three distinct story lines. Two of which complimented one another: Dickens’s first American tour and the aftermath of Dickens’s death. The third revolved around the life of Dickens’ son in India. I enjoyed the plot and the writing; however, the obscure connection of this last story line to the rest of the novel, left me wanting.
I recommend to those who have read other works by Matthew Pearl and/or those who enjoy historical fiction, Dickens or the publishing world. I also recommend to those of you who have not read Matthew Pearl.
Other novels by Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club, Poe’s Shadow. My favorite was The Dante Club.