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February 3, 2012

How does it end: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens (Completed by David Madden)
ARC, paperback 444 pages
Published October 2011 by Unthank Books
ISBN13: 9780956422330
Read September 2011 - January 2012 
Buy: Amazon  Powell's Books

Let me start off my saying two things: 1. DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION to the book unless you already know the story line as it gives away the ending, 2. Just because it took me forever to read it, it wasn't because it was dull or boring. Actually it was quite entertaining. 

I did have some trouble getting into the story at first, but that is typical for me when reading Dickens. Though I love A Tale of Two Cities I use to skip the first several chapters and sometimes all of book 1. I also had to get in the right frame of mind as words used during Dickens time just don't mean the same thing today.

As some of you might know, this was the project Dickens was working on when he died and he did not complete it. I would think it would be difficult to pick up someone's story and complete it, but added that this is a murder mystery and has the twist and turns inherent to the genre, I would think it would be extremely difficult to complete. I mean how does one know what a real clue and what is a red herring in the plot? The introduction does provide some explanation as to how Madden drew his conclusion and I recommend reading it (just after reading the story). I like research so I found it interesting.

While the Dickens portion took me quite a while to get through I relatively breezed through Madden's section. Whereas the first part was dark and heavy (I kind of pictured Cloisterham as Knockturn Alley), there seemed to be a lightness to the second part (even the image of Cloisterham changed in my head to a lighter more open place). The language seemed more modern. More like what I would read in a historical novel that wanted to give the feel of the time, but make it easier for today's generation. 

Dickens is very detailed in his writing. The characters come fully alive. I loved the characterization of Mr. Honeythunder (though I did not like him). I could so picture the dinner party. Madden emulates Dickens with the character of Billickens. 

While I enjoy Dickens, I haven't read many of his works, but the ending Madden puts together seemed a little too tidy. All the characters were accounted for and tied up in a neat little bow. Something about it just seemed off to me. Any other Dickens fans out there? I'm trying to remember how wrapped up the ending was for A Tale of Two Cities. All I remember is how sad I was that Carton found love just as he headed to the gallows. I ask you, Dickens readers, how do other Dickens' novels end?

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