As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Last Dickens & Giveaway!

The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl is another book I've been honored to review as part of TLC Book Tours. This is one of those books that is just right up my alley. It's got historical-fiction, mystery, murder, a literary celebrity, and just plain good characters. And don't worry if you've never read anything by Charles Dickens. After reading this, though, you may want to start.

The story starts off just after the death of Charles Dickens. His death has caused quite the stir, not just because of his popularity but because he left his latest novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. Back then, many novels were published segments at a time as serials. So everyone knew that the title character, Edwin Drood, had been murdered by his uncle. But how did the story end? This was particularly aggravating to his London and American publishers.

It's left to one of the partners of Dickens' American publishers, James Osgood, to track down and see if Dickens left any notes or papers revealing how the story would end. They are racing against thieves and unsavory characters who will publish their own versions and who will even murder to get their hands on the valuable document.

I enjoyed this novel on so many different levels. First of all, this is a fun mystery adventure filled with thieves, creepy villains, opium dens...all that is great in a Dickens novel. James Osgood and his assistant Rebecca Sands are just an awesome hero/heroine duo. I loved the insight into the cut-throat publishing world of the 19th Century. I had no clue that the U.S. was such a breeding ground for unauthorized printing.

But my favorite aspect of this book was all that I learned about Charles Dickens. There is one segment that flashes back a few years to when Dickens did a whirl-wind American tour. I had no clue how huge of a celebrity he was back then. I mean HUGE. I really want to know more about him. And his story is one of those things where fact really is more crazy than fiction. For instance, he was in this huge train accident and miraculously survived, even helped to save other passengers. But the whole experience haunted him tremendously. Five years later, to the day, he passed away. And this is just ONE of the crazy things I learned about him.

So again, you don't have read any of Charles Dickens novels to enjoy this one. But it inspired me to read some. I'm in the middle of reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood right now and am really enjoying it. It's actually pretty humorous as well.

And now for the giveaway...

TLC Book Tours and Matthew Pearl are letting me give away TWO books. You must do two things: 1) Leave a comment telling me if you've read any novels by either Charles Dickens and/or Matthew Pearl. 2) Some way of contacting you (blog, email, etc).

Contest is open through Friday, October 23rd, and world-wide.

Good luck!

The cover above is the hardcover edition I own. The trade paperback just came out October 6th with this awesome cover:
Here's another cover I found. I think the trade paperback is my favorite.

Matthew Pearl’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, September 28th: Book Chatter and Other Stuff

Wednesday, September 30th: Raging Bibliomania

Thursday, October 1st: Linus’s Blanket

Monday, October 5th: Life in the Thumb

Tuesday, October 6th: The Brain Lair

Wednesday, October 7th: Bookish Ruth

Thursday, October 8th: A High and Hidden Place

Monday, October 12th: Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker

Tuesday, October 13th: Beth Fish Reads

Wednesday, October 14th: S. Krishna’s Books

Thursday, October 15th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Friday, October 16th: Stephanie’s Written Word

Monday, October 19th: The Tome Traveller

Tuesday, October 20th: Book Club Classics

Wednesday, October 21st: Luxury Reading

Thursday, October 22nd: Savvy Verse and Wit

Also Reviewed by:

You're History!


  1. Hiya! Just found your blog a few weeks ago and must tell you that I have been enjoying it immensely!! Great posts and terrific reads!

    As for the giveaway, my comment would have to be that I have read The Dante Club by him and that I thoroughly enjoyed it! As for Dickens, well, I was in a play of A Christmas Carol.



  2. Charles Dickens is a fabulously entertaining subject. You are right on that this book has a mix of things going on that made it work. I loved the history of the publishing companies and the stories about Dickens. Don't know if I am ready to read on of his novels yet, but I definitely want to read a biography- and maybe A Christmas Carol.

  3. Heather, thanks for this thoughtful write-up! Let me know if there are any questions I can answer.

  4. I'd love to read this! I've read Oliver Twist and Great Expectations so far, and will soon read David Copperfield for an upcoming challenge.



  5. I did read Pearl's Dante Club book and loved it. I'm sure I've read several things by Dickens, but the only one I'm coming up with right now is A Christmas Carol. Thanks for entering me.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

  6. Sounds fascinating -- just posted about this on Win A Book. No need to enter me, though.

  7. just bought this paperback and wish I could have gotten the hard back version! Glad to hear it is such a good read! I read Drood by Dan Simmons so have a little notion as to Dickens and Drood.. and anxious to read this one.

  8. I've read (or read part of) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

    haleymathiot at yahoo dot com

  9. What a great giveaway. I'd love it if you entered me. No I have not read either but I really must do something about that.


  10. I have read books by Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. I haven't read any by Matthew Pearl though.

    melacan at hotmail dot com

  11. Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol... Never read Matthew Pearl, but I'd like to!

    janemaritz at yahoo dot com

  12. I read Christmas Carol.


  13. I read Christmas Carol.


  14. Ok, you know I need desperate help with my current book slump. And, sadly I haven’t read anything by Matthew Pearl. So, yes, I'm entering myself. You know how to contact me (smile).

  15. I'm not sure that i've read any of his books. But i heard them alot. And still i'd love to read his works! *curious, curious*
    uniquas at ymail dot com

  16. I'm still only halfway done, but I too am thoroughly enjoying the novel.

  17. I've never read anything by Dickens, but I WAS the ghost of Christmas past in the 8th grade play. :-)

  18. I've read the Christmas Carol and enjoyed it. Please enter me:

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

  19. This book looks wonderful! Last December my book club read A Christmas Carol and then had a potluck with recipes from the book. We had figgy pudding, roasted chestnuts - the whole works - it was a blast!

    journey through books @ gmail dot com

  20. I'm a big fan of Dickens--Oliver Twist, Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Great Expecations...Pearls book sounds so interesting!


  21. I've read lots of Dickens. Great Expectations was my favorite. Thanks for the giveaway.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  22. I have read all of Dickens books as far as I know!

    Thanks for a fantastic giveaway, Dickens is my favorite author=)
    Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

  23. Sounds great! Please count me in. Thanks.

    By the way, I've read Great Expectations.

    avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

  24. I've been following this tour around and have become soooo interested in this book! Thanks for the chance to win a copy. It will be my first Matthew Pearl book. I've read several books by Dickens, and A TALE OF TWO CITIES is my favorite - I read it in high school and just enjoyed the experience s much.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  25. I've only read Great Expectations! Would love to read Hard Times one day. :) Please count me in.



  26. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is an all-time favorite! Haven;t read Matthew Pearl but would like to be entered!


  27. This looks great! Please enter me!

    I read The Poe Shadow and it was amazing!!!

    BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

  28. Long ago I read Great Expectations. I would love to win this.
    joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

  29. I've read many of Charles Dickens' books, primarily in school-A Tale of two Cities,David Copperfield, Great Expectations, etc.but sadly I haven't read any Matthew Pearl yet.

    I would absolutely love a chance to win this book. Thanks.


  30. I read Hard Times (loved it!), David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Barnaby Rudge (didn't like it that much), Great Expectations, and the first chapter of Bleak House.

    I haven't read him in a while but remember loving his novels. I would love to win this. Thanks so much.

    gaby317nyc at gmail dot com

  31. Way back in high school I read several Dickens books. The Matthew Pearl book really interests me.


  32. This book says fascintaing!!! Please enter me.....

  33. I've never read Matthew Pearl but I have read every book Charles Dickens wrote. This is a situation that needs to be remedied. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks for hosting!


  34. Would love to read this book...thanks for the opportunity.

    I read 'a tale of two cities' in high school.

    karen k

  35. I've read The Dante Club, but I've never read Charles Dickens. I really have to read one, though.


  36. I've read Great Expectations by Dickens, and The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl and enjoyed both very much. I'd love to read Matthew's latest book...please enter my name in your giveaway. Thank you. Enjoying your blog also, my first, but not my last time here!




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