Friday, October 25, 2013

The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens

Summary:  Edwin Drood is contracted to marry Orphan Rosa, but they break the engagement off-and soon afterwards Edwin disappears. Is it murder? And is his jealous uncle-a sinister choirmaster with a double life and designs on Rosa-the killer? Dickens died before completing the story, leaving the mystery unsolved and encouraging successive generations of readers to turn detective. In addition to its tantalizing crime, the novel also offers a characteristically Dickensian mix of the fantastical world of the imagination and a vibrantly journalistic depiction of gritty reality.(Image and summary taken from goodreads.com)

My Review: October is a perfect time for spooky mysteries, good books, and suspense.  What better time to read Dickens' last novel - the one he was writing when he died, before he could actually reveal the murderer?   

There are a few things with Dickens' last novel that frustrated me.  First, I have always found Dickens an amazing author of characters.  Within the first minute or two of meeting a character, I have always found myself either adoring or despising the character, just as Dickens intends.  There were some characters that lived up to this reputation, but one pivotal character so annoyed me that I found myself hoping she either was the one murdered (unlikely, as her name isn't Edwin Drood) or the murderess.  I had a difficult time empathizing with her, which made the whole mystery seem contrived.  Second, the focus of the novel seems to switch a third of the way through.  It's as though Dickens began by penning an anti-romantic novel, and then changed his mind after the first serial was published.  It gave me a little whiplash. (Sidenote, after writing this review, I did a little digging ... and it turns out that's exactly what happened!)

That being said, it was quite a good read.  I liked trying to guess where Dickens was planning on taking his characters.  I've always admired Dickens' ability to introduce so many seemingly unrelated characters and tie them together at the very end, and I enjoyed trying to piece together who would come into play and when.  Unfortunately, there's no telling whether I was right in my assumptions ... but I like to think I was!  He certainly surprised me more than once with tie-ins I had never expected.  I would have loved to have read a finished novel, but luckily with a little cyber-digging, I was able to find quite a few outlines left in his papers and statements he had made to his relatives that hint at the resolution.  And there's nothing wrong with an excellent cliff-hanger!

My Rating:  3.5 stars


For the sensitive reader:  Dickens tackles the Opium trade.

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