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The Last Dickens

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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  4,416 ratings  ·  653 reviews
In his most enthralling novel yet, the critically acclaimed author Matthew Pearl reopens one of literary history’s greatest mysteries. The Last Dickens is a tale filled with the dazzling twists and turns, the unerring period details, and the meticulous research that thrilled readers of the bestsellers The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow.

Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dic...more
Kindle Edition, 401 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
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Linda
The first Matthew Pearl novel I read was THE POE SHADOW, which was a fascinating concept --- allowing the reader to experience such a famous (and mysterious) writer as a real person. I felt that the idea was not equaled by the execution in that book. I thought I would try one more time, however, so I just finished reading THE LAST DICKENS, obviously a novel featuring Charles Dickens. Once again, the concept was great. In both cases the author based his characters and events on true stories and r...more
Thomas Walsh
"The Dante Club" was marvelous. "The Poe Shadow" was astounding. Now, Pearl tackles my favorite author. It has to be a blockbuster!I finished this book. Mr. Pearl has done it again!! I thought nothing could top his novel on Poe, but I was wrong: run to read this book!!!
Karyl
On June 9, 1870, Charles Dickens died suddenly at his home. He was only 58. At the time of his death, he was hard at work at a novel called The Mystery of Edwin Drood, but he'd only finished half the novel. This book follows his American publisher, James R. Osgood, who believed the last half of Drood had been written before Dickens's death, and the race to find it before more unsavory characters got their hands on the manuscript. The synopsis of the book makes it sound right up my alley -- a mys...more
Ben Babcock
Recipe for a historical mystery: 1) Find an unsolved mystery from a past time period. 2) Think up a plausible solution for the mystery, then take some historical characters and have them discover the truth. 3) Come up with a plausible explanation for why, if these people solved the mystery, it remains unsolved to this day.

Recipe for a historical literary mystery: repeat the steps above, shake vigorously, and add a dead writer of your choice. Missing manuscripts and unfinished novels are a bonus....more
ruzmarì
I wanted to like this novel, really I did. I love Dickens's novels and pretty much anything to do with Dickens, and I have an especial soft spot for Drood. But Pearl's novel left me cold. I kept trying to get more involved in the plot's nefarious twists and turns, and to appreciate his trademark authorial touches, including the subtle nod at recent Dickens scholars with a postcolonial lens ... but the novel kept rejecting my attempts at affection. It begins with a premise familiar to anyone who...more
Booklover, Indianapolis
(August) 1.5* I really didn't like this book at all! It was, IMO, a convoluted mess! There were parts that were pointless, parts that made no sense,and the ending - huh? I still am not sure I get the whys and wherefores of the mystery. I'm not a mystery reader as a general rule, but still -it was really confusing as to what exactly the "bad guys" wanted, why they did what they did. The entire parts that took place in India were poitless as was most of the storyline w/Dickens still alive. I found...more
Rebecca Foster
Fluffy but compelling. The puff from Dan Brown on the cover says it all: Pearl’s is a rather low-brow brand of literary historical fiction. I surprised myself with my willingness to give Pearl another try; after all, I found The Dante Club strangely slow-paced and dull despite its sensational subject matter. But I’m glad I persevered and read this one.

Though it has Pearl’s usual slow exposition and slightly flat character development, the Victorian settings and Dickensian theme meant that I did...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I'm always interested in Victorian historical fiction plus I've read two other books this year that concerned Charles Dickens: 'Drood' by Dan Simmons and 'Wanting' by Richard Flanagan. Therefore I thought why not add a third to the mix especially since this concentrated on Dickens last novel as did 'Drood'.

Comments: Dickens has just died leaving his last book "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" only half-finished. But one of the partners of his American publishing house James Osgoo...more
Ann Sloan
In a way, every piece of fiction is a mystery – How is it going to turn out? What will happen to the characters? If the reader doesn’t care, then the author hasn’t succeeded in writing a good book. The author must create a degree of eagerness and anxiety in the reader to keep him (or her) turning the pages. The anxiety in The Last Dickens is ideal for the bibliophile: what happens when we lose the voices that tell us what happens next? It’s June 1870, and Charles Dickens suffers a stroke midway...more
Keith
As historical novels go I think this one was particularly fascinating in how intricately the events of the story’s fictional characters are interwoven with the actual historical events of Dickens life. James Ripley Osgood, the junior partner in the American publishing firm representing Charles Dickens, sets out in pursuit of clues to the conclusion of Dickens final novel which was left only half finished at the time of his death. The completion of the novel is of great import to his American pub...more
Annette Lyttle
From beginning to end, The Last Dickens, by Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow, remains an idea with great potential that suffers in the execution. I found the structure of the story, which shifts from the story’s present in which Dickens has just died to a recent past in which he is touring America for the last time, difficult to follow (and what is the India thing with Dickens’s son doing popping in and out of the narrative?).

The book has lots of very promising element...more
Charisse
Mar 17, 2009 Charisse marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Charisse by: Elmer
Shelves: fiction
My friend, who recommended Drood to me, told me about this new novel. Amazon gave it a good review - reading this after Drood I believe would be interesting.
Steve Smits
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...more
Alcornell
this was quite a lot harder to get into than the Dante Club...but I remain a fan of this author. Pearl always educates, and this book is no exception. The mystery of Edwin Drood remains a mystery, and yet The Last Dickens proposes a tale so believable one thinks it must be true. But so much of Dickens remains a mystery in this tale. And the book did not flow as well as I expected. I did not fully understand the purpose of telling a story about Dickens' son in India, except to transition the read...more
Katrice
I enjoyed this, but of all the three Pearl books have read so far this to me is the weakest.

The best thing about Mr. Pearl's historical literature fictional mysteries is that he obviously loves and even revers the literary figures and works that he writes about. While am sure that Mr. Pearl takes certain liberties in making literary figures "characters" in a fictional tale, he does so in a way that manages to stay respectful. I actually enjoy it and it always has the added bonus that I actually...more
Gail
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Ellie
Matthew Pearl's third historical literary thriller turns its sights onto the mystery of Dickens' final unfinished work. Shortly after his death, Dickens' American publisher embarks on a search to find out the true ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood before his rivals can release a fake.

One of the most interesting parts for me was that around the history of American publishing. Even in the late 17th Century Harper & Brothers (to later become the modern day HarperCollins) were considered the...more
Jeff Jellets
Matthew Pearl’s The Last Dickens is a double mystery connected to Charles Dickens’ great unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. First, it’s an historical “whodunit,” which leads publisher James Osgood and his girl Friday, Rebecca Sand, on a hunt to find the missing pages of Charles Dickens’ last unfinished novel and to unravel the book’s connection to the murder of Rebecca’s brother. And second, The Last Dickens is also Pearl’s attempt to posit an ending The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a puzzl...more
Peter
The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is a book I really wanted to like. Victorian Literature is my favourite genre, Dickens my favourite author and the mystery that surrounds the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood one of the great questions of Dickens' scholars. Sadly, when I found myself reading The Last Dickens I felt more and more like exclaiming "please sir, I want more."

Matthew Pearl has done his homework in this work of historical fiction. The characters of Dickens, Forster, Dolby and others a...more
Henrik
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Katrina
Matthew Pearl creates such vivid environments. I bought the Poe Shadow a few years back and it sat on my shelf because I didn't have much time to read it. When I made the time...I couldn't believe how much I loved that book! They are incredibly detailed but very densely written and they aren't quick reads by any means but the time it takes is completely worth it. The book is vivid and real and brings the period to life as few authors are able. The characters, many of them drawn from historical s...more
Correen

Charles Dickens completes his tour in the United States, returns to London, and succumbs to an infection that some believe resulted from his tour. Pearl takes this bit of information, researches the events in and surrounding Dicken's life, and develops an interesting story. Using the real characters that were important to Dickens and adding a minimum of fictional characters, Pearl relates his story of intrigue and romance. He makes an interesting assumption that underlies his tale, that Dickens...more
Shelley
I really enjoy Matthew Pearl's novels; I like how he takes a famous literary mystery and gives us a combination of historical fiction and mystery. Here, we learn about Dickens' reading tour of the US, his last days, publishing rivalries, and the sordid world of opium dealers and drug dens in the mid to late 19th century. Overall, a fun, fast paced read. I was surprised to learn that many of the events in the novel were based on actual events (Dickens led an interesting life!). The India storylin...more
Melinda
When news of Charles Dickens's untimely death reaches the office of his American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to fetch a copy of the unfinished novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood". When Daniels' body is discovered by the docks, manuscript nowhere in sight, Osgood commences a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel and reveal Daniel's killer. Good premise. However, there is a lot going on in this novel. Ordinarily I like to piece all the...more
Katie
Another enjoyable book by Matthew Pearl. I found this mystery did not hold my interest quite as thoroughly as the Dante and Poe mysteries, but I have to allow that I was reading this book while I was sick and my physical misery may have colored my ability to enjoy the book fully. However, I have to admit that while I had some suspicions about a particular character, I never guessed at his true identity, and in my opinion, that is a mark of a well-written mystery. I like to be able to follow alon...more
Ann
A wonderful book! Charles Dickens has just died suddenly of a stroke. His publisher in New York is waiting for the latest installment of Dickens' book "The Mystery of Edward Drood" when the young clerk sent to the docks to collect the pages is murdered. James Osgood, a partner in the publisher's firm, travels to England to try to put together the ending of the book. He needs to hurry before other publishers put out their own stories. He is misdirected, robbed, lied to and many strange obstacles...more
AJ
I bought the book based on all the great cover blurbs and an affection for, of course, Dickens. I also enjoy historical fiction, but I have to say that I'm generally not a reader of the mystery genre.

So, with that introduction, I found overall that, despite the obviously good premise, it was a totally put-downable read. For me, the implausibilities at the outset -- the parts that get the plot up and running -- were enough to chip away at my goodwill. I was also annoyed at the point of view jumps...more
Danny
A really wonderful historical fiction that painted a picture of Some aspects of New England, England, and colonial India in the late 1860s and early 1870s. Discussion of the opium culture was particularly interesting as were the details of the publishing world at that time. Some of the side stories seemed a bit pointless.

I was interested to read how many of the characters were historical. But my favorite character, a new favorite among fictional characters for me, was Tom Brannigan, the Irish P...more
Liz Johnson
The Dante' Club, The Poe Shadow and now The Last Dickens have been read. All three take place during mid to late 1800's, not my favorite time period so it was with great effort that I started The Dante Club. I confess that I rather enjoyed the story especially the depth of its characters. I read next Poe of which I liked however I became quite annoyed at the abyss the main character Quinten Clark descends into at the cost reputation and livelyhood. By far I liked The Last Dickens most. Filled wi...more
Deb
A good mystery is fun to read and, although I questioned the necessity of the inclusion of a few of the ingredients (it seemed like some of the details were brought up but then never developed or explained), this did not disappoint. Of the three Matthew Pearl books I've read (The Poe Shadow, The Dante Club, & The Last Dickens) this one is my favorite. I'm quite certain that's because I am more familiar with the writing of Charles Dickens and, therefore, found it easier to catch the allusions...more
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Literary Adventure : The Last Dickens 1 5 Apr 10, 2014 04:09PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Questions 1 13 Dec 07, 2011 01:25PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Thoughts while reading (NO SPOILERS!) 1 11 Dec 07, 2011 01:23PM  
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Matthew Pearl is the author of the novels The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and his newest work, The Last Dickens. His books have been New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Slate.com. He has been heard on shows including NPR's "All Things...more
More about Matthew Pearl...
The Dante Club The Poe Shadow The Technologists The Professor's Assassin Instytut  młodych naukowców

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“Books do pretend ...but squeezed in between is even more that is true—without what you may call the lies, the pages would be too light for the truth, you see?” 3 likes
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