Matthew Pearl’s newest literary thriller, The Last Dickens, is a satisfying attempt to add closure to the mystery surrounding Charles Dickens‘ uncompleted novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This fascinating blend of history and fiction is sure to convince its readers the events in the book are entirely true.
The year is 1870, and the world is in mourning at the passing of a much beloved author, Charles Dickens. James Ripley Osgood sends his trustworthy employee, Daniel Sand, to intercept the last installments of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Only 6 installments of the last Dickens novel have been published, and Osgood must be the first to publish it. Young Sand dies in a tragic “accident”, and the coveted pages are not found on his dead body. With the assistance of Daniel’s sister, the beautiful and recently divorced Rebecca Sand, Osgood sets out on a mission to recover the missing pages and find out how the last Dickens novel concludes. Rebecca and Osgood encounter more than they bargained for as they begin to search for the answers to the truth behind Daniel’s death and discover there may actually be a real “Edwin Drood”.
It wasn’t so much Osgood’s journey that I enjoyed in this book, but the historical facts that Matthew Pearl worked into the fiction. To give one example of something I learned while reading, a group of individuals called “Bookaneers” would attempt to get the manuscripts as they arrived in America and sell them for a high price to competing publishers. Foreign citizens suffered from the loss of royalties, but gained popularity as multiple editions were released of their novels and made accessible to all classes.
I have long considered Charles Dickens to be my favorite classics author, but in reading
The Last Dickens I realized how very little I know of him. Not only am I now inspired to read The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but I would also like to research more on publishing in the 19th century and Dickens himself.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. Instead of becoming a teacher, she tried her hand at technical writing and content writing for various companies. Occasionally she dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Please visit Matthew Pearl’s website and follow along on his blog tour with TLC Book Tours.