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The Last Dickens

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  6,714 ratings  ·  860 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
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Random House (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  6,714 ratings  ·  860 reviews

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Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Simona B

“Looking around, it seemed every character from every Dickens novel, aristocrat and common, pompous and inconspicuous, had come to life...”

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is an entertaining novel and a treat for Dickens fanatics such as myself. As much as I enjoyed myself, however, I think that I would have appreciated the book more if I hadn't already read and reread and loved The D. Case or The Truth About The Mystery Of Edwin Drood by Fruttero and Lucentini. The aims of these two wo
The first book I read of Matthew Peal was the Last Bookaneer, a later publication to the Last Dickens. I loved the Last Bookaneer so much and expected same competence in this book. But I'm so sorry to say that this book was a disappointment. I loved the information given in the book relating to Charles Dicken which in fact gave me a new awareness and new perspective regarding the renowned author. I thank Mr. Pearl for that. But the main plot was so disturbed with some incidental, I would say irr ...more
Kara 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.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: two-star, goodbye, r-r
The Last Dickens is a novel by Matthew Pearl published in 2009. The first problem I had with the book was with that year 2009. I don't often read books from years beginning with the number 2, and when I do I find I'm not very good at it. Paying attention that is. There were none of those long sentences with lots of words that Dickens wrote in his novels, this one was about him, not by him. Which brings me to my next thought on the whole thing and that is while I should be reading books written b ...more
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Stephen the Librarian
The works of Charles Dickens have stood the test of time since the 19th century, including his final, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Published as a serial, TMoED kept adoring readers eagerly awaiting the next installment. Yet, when Dickens perished from a stroke midway through the novel, the world was aghast at losing its most popular author, the public left frantically yearning to know the author’s intentions. Was Edwin Drood murdered—and if so, who was the killer? Was it Edwin's ...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
Ann Sloan
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Benjamin Thomas
Boston, 1870. Charles Dickens has just died but alas, only the first 6 installments of his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood have been published so far in England. Young James Osgood, junior partner in a publishing firm in Boston which has the exclusive rights to publish Dickens in America sends a trusted clerk, Daniel Sand, to the docks to pick up the existing manuscript pages when they arrive from England. Unfortunately, Daniel’s body is discovered in what appears to be death by opium mi ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF @37%

I’m still not very good at DNFing books I don’t like because I’m usually the type to push through even when I don’t like something. I’m hoping 2019 brings a stronger Eden who is able to say no and BE OKAY WITH IT.

The summary of this book sounds fantastic. Mystery concerning a book and the writing community? Count me in! Or not… I did like the idea of this book and how history was used. I honestly don’t know a lot about Charles Dickens and have only read part of Oliver Twist, so learning
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A friend pressed this book into my hands as we headed out his door on the way to a week at the beach, and I loved it! Pearl imagines what Dickens' intent for the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood might have been, and how one intrepid American publisher, a historical figure, might have gone about discovering it. Filled with wit and imagination, playful language, Dickensian characters and Victorian drama, set in Boston, London, and elsewhere. Not the same Dickens as in the recent movie, The Man Wh ...more
Annette Lyttle
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Nicola Mansfield
Oct 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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 evil
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pearl packs so much in one of his novels--tons of research, several plot lines and tons of description. The only complaint I have with his novels is probably one of age: when I pick up the book after a day away, I forget who was who, or where they were, or what decade it is. It's easily remedied by re-reading a page or 2, but it's always good to read one of his books in as few sittings as possible.

I haven't read much Dickens. I have another historical novel Girl in a Blue Dress in my TBR list b
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
May 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Pearl plunges into the world of 1870, skillfully blending historical fact and literary fiction into a riveting tale about Charles Dickens’ unfinished last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Drawing on original letters and newspapers, Pearl recounts the extraordinary celebrity of Dickens during his speaking tour of America, where hundreds would line up overnight, enduring freezing temperatures in the hopes of obtaining tickets to his sold out shows.
The seedy underworld of the opium trade washes
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review, press-copy
The Last Dickens engulfs readers and transports us to times and methods gone by in the writing and publishing world and the rather seedy opium business. Who knew that there were Bookaneers [scrappy people who stop at nothing to access unpublished works by various authors:] and such vengeful publishers about? Today of course there are bidding wars between publishing houses for someone’s memoir or novel but it is not the pirate-like business in which author Matthew Pearl describes in The Last Dick ...more
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
Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Matthew Pearl has a winning adventure of the highest literary calibur. He attended Harvard and also has taught literature at Harvard. I will be checking out his book on Lonfellow, and Edgar Allen Poe with several cups of hot chocolate to help through the mystery of his well written books. 'The Last Dickens' comes close to the truth as most of the characters were real people and Matthew has kept to historic acuracy. Yet the book grips you with the mystery of Dickens last book.
James Osgood is the
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is great companion book to Simmons's "Drood". Five stars all around. ...more
Gilbert G.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Matthew Pearl is INCREDIBLE
Dec 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Starting a review is always a difficult task for me. I come up with ideas and end up dismissing them on second or third thought. In regards to this review, should I begin with the fact that this is my first Matthew Pearl novel? I have wanted to read his books for some time now but it took a book tour for me to finally pick one up and give it a try. This seems to be something I have been doing quite a bit--joining a book tour as an excuse to read a book I’ve wanted to read but haven’t managed to ...more
Denise Mullins
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
The research Matthew Pearl conducted for this book is meticulously detailed, not only providing an in depth account of Charles Dickens but the language, culture, and attitudes of the era; in this respect, it cannot be faulted and would make a magnificent biography of the Boz. The problem rests in the fact that this is a historic mystery imagining the search for Dickens's last unfinished book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by his would-be publisher.
In a style that imitates Dickens to a fault, Pearl
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, fiction
3.5 Stars from me. This was an interesting read providing a fictitious ending to the fiction novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" by Charles Dickens that the author left unfinished at his death. I liked the hypothesis that was proposed here, and I found this book more intriguing than most of Charles Dickens' work. [I'm NOT a fan and don't believe he is the greatest English writer ever. Not by a longshot, but I digress...]

This book flowed well and provided a curious tale as the publisher and his b
I’m about a third of the way through this book and it’s one I can’t wait to finish. As we all know, Dickens first published in chapters of a novel in the newspaper and then published the entire book. This novel has Dickens dying as he’s in the midst of a story. The last section he wrote was sent to Boston from England and subsequently stolen. The tale continues from there with not-so-nice things to say about New York publishers. The Boston publisher who receives Dickens chapters goes to England ...more
The concept is interesting: the 1870s rush to find the ending of Charles Dickens' last novel after his sudden death. The story flits between Boston, London, and the English countryside - but also takes strange detours into India that distracted from the plot and felt unnecessary.

The author clearly did a TON of research on a bunch of topics and made sure to squeeze them all in, to the detriment of the pacing and plot focus.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, though it might have been better had it been
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Literary Adventure : The Last Dickens 1 7 Apr 10, 2014 04:09PM  
Hampden B.A.G.: Questions 1 14 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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Note from the author:Hi everyone. My newest novel is The Dante Chamber, out May 29, 2018. It's a follow-up to my debut novel, The Dante Club, but you do not have to read one before the other, each stands on its own two feet. Hope you'll enjoy any of books you choose to pick up.

Matthew Pearl's novels have been international and New York Times bestsellers translated into more than 30 languages. His

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