Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review & Blog Tour: The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl (plus a Giveaway!)


In 1870 American publishing firms raced to obtain copies of new European books. The copyright laws did not stretch to international works, so there was no regulation prohibiting a competing firm from printing any book. There was great competition amongst the big publishing firms to be the first to print popular new works.

When Charles Dickens died suddenly on June 9, 1870 he was only half finished with the book that would be his last: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. His American publishing house, the Boston firm of Fields, Osgood & Co, is anxiously awaiting the first half of the book to be delivered by ship. Young Daniel Sand, the assistant who was sent to the dock to pick up the pages, is killed on his way back to the offices. His death looks like an opium overdose, though his sister Rebecca, who also works at the company, knows that he was no addict.

The pages are replaced fairly easily, but Fields and Osgood both know that rival firm Harper & Brothers is breathing down their necks and will publish the first half of the book themselves as soon as the six installments comprising the first half of the book are published. The author's death means that the final six installments will never be written. Then they are inspired by a fantastic idea. If they go to England perhaps they can learn something about what the ending of the novel would have been. Armed with this information, Fields, Osgood & Co. would be in the enviable position of having exclusive content and would be assured of a bestseller, something their struggling firm badly needs.


The Great Charles Dickens, aka Chief, Inimitable, Boz

Originally, Fields was to have made the trip as senior partner. But he decides to send young James Osgood instead, along with Rebecca Sand as secretary. James is attacked on the ship going to London. The culprit, a swarthy fellow with a deadly walking stick, is captured and held in the ship's hold. Before they dock in England, though, the fellow has inexplicably escaped.

They have not seen the last of him. James and Rebecca take rooms at the inn across from Dickens' home, Gadshill Place. They have permission from the family to execute a search of the author's papers, though no one has any idea what the author's plans were for the last half of the novel. They find a few tiny clues, but not even the Queen of England was told how the book would end (Dickens offered to tell her, but she preferred to wait and read the installments with the rest of the British public).

As their search widens, they encounter more strange and eccentric people while following the twisting trail of Edwin Drood. Their time is running out, the last of the six installments will soon be published and they will have nothing to add to the final published book. Desperate to succeed, James accompanies a lunatic into London's violent opium dens, hoping to find more information...if he survives.

I really loved this fascinating mystery. It has everything, from a eye-opening look at the publishing industry of the period, both in America and England, to an equally hair raising lesson in the opium industry. I had no idea that whole areas of India were commanded by the ruling British government to grow nothing but poppies for the development of opium. Nothing else could be grown, not even food, so whole villages starved as a result.

The characters in the book are equally interesting (many of them were, of course, actual people), vividly drawn and so true to life that I sometimes felt I was reading non-fiction - though real life is seldom as action-packed as this book! Matthew Pearl has all his historical facts right and he blends them artfully into an absorbing, fast-paced thriller of a tale. Go and get The Last Dickens...you won't be disappointed!

I received this book courtesy of the publisher as part of the TLC Book Tour. To see the rest of the stops on the tour, click here. For more information about Matthew Pearl and his fantastic historical novels, please visit his website.

The Last Dickens is published by Random House, ISBN 978-1-4000-6656-8
The publisher has provided an extra copy for this giveaway! To enter, leave me a comment here. The winner must have a US or Canada mailing address and will be drawn at random. Enter through midnight eastern on October 30th. Below are some ways for you to earn extra entries. Please leave ONE comment for each thing you choose to do. You can combine your comments together if you like but please do not leave multiple comments for the same extra thing (for example, one comment if you fave at Technorati or subscribe via Feedburner, not three). Anyone who already follows, subscribes, or has faved at Technorati still gets the extras, just mention it in your comment! Thank you for visiting and entering!

+1 become a follower
+1 tweet giveaway on twitter or blog about it (note that you did in your comment)
+3 fave this blog at Technorati (click on the little green box on the left sidebar)
+3 subscribe via Feedburner
+1 go to Matthew's website
here and either sign the guestbook or sign up for the newsletter - make sure to let me know that you did in your comment!

72 comments:

edmontonjb said...

This sounds like an interesting read. please enter me
dftrew(at)gmail(dot)com

edmontonjb said...

I follow your blog
dftrew(at)gmail(dot)com

Literary Feline said...

Carey, I am glad to read that you enjoyed this one too. I had such a fun time reading it. The last 150 pages just flew by! Although I knew the British had colonized India, I hadn't realized the history of opium and poppies either. That was very enlightening and sad.

No need to enter me in the giveaway. Thanks for your great review!

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see this is so good! I won it from Bookish Ruth and I'm really looking forward to the industry gossip. No need to enter me.

Sandra K321 said...

I love historical fiction, especially from his time period.

I subscribe to your blog via Google.

seknoblcoh(at)gmail(dot)com

Linna said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this book.

linna.hsu at gmail dot com

Linna said...

I'm a follower.

linna.hsu at gmail dot com

Linda said...

I've loved Dickens ever since HS,50 years ago. I'd love to win this book.

I follow through Google Reader.

lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

Rabid Fox said...

A good novel involving Dickens in any way? Sign me up. :)

e-mail: rabidfox(at)ymail.com

Rabid Fox said...

+1 I'm a follower

+1 Tweeted giveaway here.

+3 subscribe via Feedburner

+1 went to Matthew's website and signed up for the newsletter

e-mail: rabidfox(at)ymail.com

LisaMM said...

Carey, what a great review! I love a book that keeps me on the edge of my seat! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Thanks so much for the time you put into reading and reviewing The Last Dickens for the tour. It's much appreciated.

Pricilla said...

Please enter me
thank you
kaiminani@gmail.com

Pricilla said...

I follow
thanks
kaiminani@gmail.com

Pricilla said...

I faved you at technorati where I am BrokenTeepee
thank you
kaiminani@gmail.com

Pricilla said...

I subscribe in feedburner +3
thank you
kaiminani@gmail.com

rubynreba said...

Sounds very interesting. Thanks!
+3 subscriber
+1 follower
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

bridget3420 said...

Already a follower

bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

bridget3420 said...

Already an email subscriber

bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

bridget3420 said...

Technorati fave - bridget3420

holdenj said...

This looks like an awesome literary type mystery! Please count me in!
I'm a follower!
Thanks.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

clenna said...

I have enjoyed the Ken Burns books on the Civil War period.

clenna at aol dot com

clenna said...

+1 I'm a follower

clenna at aol dot com

clenna said...

+3 I subscribe via feedburner

clenna at aol dot com

clenna said...

+1 I signed Matthew's guest book.

clenna at aol dot com

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Please enter me for this one!

+1 Follower
+1 tweeted (I'm @bookmonstrosity)
+3 I subscribe

Thanks!

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

southernmatrix said...

I would love to read this book....libbysutherland46@gmail.com I follow this blog too..

Anita Yancey said...

This sure sounds interesting. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Anita Yancey said...

+3 I subcribe by Feedburner.

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

susan.byerly said...

This sounds like a great book. I have put it on my TBR list.

susan.byerly@comcast.net

susan.byerly said...

+1 I follow your blog

+1 Signed up for Matthew Pearl's newsletter

bookmagic said...

I have this book, so I'm not entering, I haven't had a chance to read it it but I can't wait. I loved The Dante Club

Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful.

karen k
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I'm a subscriber ;)

karen k
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

etirv said...

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is an all-time favorite. I am so curious about this book!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

etirv said...

Google reader subscriber!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

etirv said...

Follower!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Pam said...

Definitely looking forward to reading this one!

+1 follower
+3 subscribe via google reader
+3 technorati fave
+1 signed Matthew's guestbook

melacan at hotmail dot com

allisonmariecat said...

+1 I follow!

Thank you!
allison DOT campbell AT gmail DOT com

Carol said...

I love both historical fiction and the works of Charles Dickens. Please enter me in the giveaway.

wolfcarol451(at)gmail(dot)com

Carol said...

I follow.

wolfcarol451(at)gmail(dot)com

Carol said...

I subscribe by Feedburner.

wolfcarol451(at)gmail(dot)com

Zibilee said...

I am also a part of this tour, so you don't have to enter me in the giveaway, but I am really glad you liked the book. I think the information about the rivalries between the publishing houses was really eye opening. I also had no idea about the mandatory opium fields. I loved the book as well and thought that Matthew was a really fun author to work with. Great review!

Amy said...

This sounds like a wonderful mystery. Everytime I read a review I have to remind myself this is fiction!

Thank you for another great giveaway!

Aimala127@gmail.com

Amy said...

I'm a follower!

Aimala127@gmail.com

Barb said...

I would love to read this. It sounds incredibly interesting.

bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

Barb said...

I am a follower of your blog.
I subscribe through Feedburner
I favd the blog on Technorati.

I tweeted about this giveaway:
http://twitter.com/pine1211/status/5053040147

I subscribed to Matthew's website and subscribed to the e-newsletter.

bstilwell12 at comcast dot net

Tea said...

Thank you for the button. I can't resist.

Amy said...

I signed up for Matthew Pear's newsletter and signed his guestbook!

Aimala127@gmail.com

Amy said...

I am now subscribed to your blog via Feedburner (I've only been subscribing this wat recently and I like it!)

Aimala127@gmail.com

Robin Maxwell said...

I write historical fiction, too, but an earlier period - 15th and 16th centuries. But I think I'm going to love this book.

The Tome Traveller said...

Robin! How exiciting to have you stop by! I have enjoyed so many of your books, they are wonderful historical fiction. Thanks so much for stopping by!

schultpe said...

Thank you for an excellent article! As an author of HF, I am excited to have discovered this blog. I will be a frequent visitor! My new novel is entitled THE FUHRER VIRUS. It is a WWII spy/conspiracy/thriller for adult readers, and can be found at www.eloquentbooks.com/TheFuhrerVirus.html, www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.booksamillion.com. Recent reviews can be found on Google Review, and at PODBRAM.

Thanks!

Paul Schultz

Diane said...

I'd love to be entered in this giveaway. I am a follower.

Laura's Reviews said...

This book sounds fantastic - please sign me up for the giveaway.

laarlt78(at)hotmail(dot)com

Laura's Reviews said...

I am a follower.


laarlt78(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nancye said...

+1 Follower
+3 fave this blog at Technorati
+3 subscribe via Feedburner

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

mindy said...

sounds like a great read thanks minsthins at optonline dot net

Gwendolyn B. said...

I've been stalking Matthew Pearl on this tour ;) I'm looking forward to reading this - thanks for the chance to win a copy!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I Follow!

geebee.reads AT gmail DoT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

Signed up for the newsletter at Matthew Pearl's website.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

Blog post at: http://aseaofbooks.blogspot.com/2009/10/giveaways-from-around-blogs.html

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Beth (BBRB) said...

This looks great! Please enter me!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Beth (BBRB) said...

I'm a follower.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I know I might be out of the giveaway by virtue of where I am coming from but I came here through A Sea of Books blog. Just to let you know.

Paula said...

This sounds like a must read. Love books that have real people and fictional characters in it.


ryspenc@yahoo.com

Jemima said...

Please enter me: thereadingjourney[at]gmail[dot]com

I am a follower through google reader
I linked to your giveaway in my sidebar: http://thereadingjourney.blogspot.com
I have previously faved at technorati

MarionG said...

Hi I love historical novels. I like how this book sounds. Please count me in. Cheers. polo-puppy-fluffy AT hotmail *dot* com

Anonymous said...

I love historical fiction. I love Dickens. I'd love to win.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I just subscribed via email. +3

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Susan said...

Sounds like some great reading! Historical fiction is my favorite.

ryanw@mts.net

carolsnotebook said...

I would love to win this. I really enjoyed Pearl's Dante Club book.

I subscribe through Google Reader.

carolsnotebook at yahoo cot com

Anonymous said...

need some winter reading thx for contest...
thehighflyer3(at)hotmail(dot)com

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About Me

My photo
New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.