I really enjoy Dickens' later works when they became darker and he came under the influence of mystery writers (like Wilkie Collins). This had the potential to be (in my mind) one of Dickens' best if not the best novels. It is very dark and brooding from the get-go and the mysterious death of Edwin Drood is not long in coming and with a host of characters who could be legitimate suspects. It's hard to find the motivation to pick up a book when you know it ends in the middle of things with nothing resolved. For a long time I asked myself, 'why bother?' Eventually I did pick it up after I'd made my way through Dickens but craved more...even if it meant an unfinished work. If you liked Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend you'll like this. If you're more into the humorous or picaersque early Dickens (Pickwick Papers, Martin Chuzzlewit, Old Curiosity Shop) you might not get into this. Read it for Dickens more than for the story. Or maybe you'd like to join the still vigorous debate over theories over who dunnit.
I tried very hard to like this & to finish it. Alas, I did not.
Charles Dickens' final, unfinished novel is considered one of his darkest works. Presciently, depicting what modern psychologists might now describe as a manic obsession, Dickens' creation, John Jasper is chillingly evil. His secret life as an opium addict is completely at odds with the daytime persona he presents as choirmaster in the fictitious town of Cloisterham. His brooding fascination with Rosa Bud, betrothed to his cheery, unsuspecting and hopelessly naïve nephew, Edwin Drood is creepy and repugnant and compels him to commit a horrible crime.
Lamentably unfinished and written in installments, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was way ahead of its time – foreshadowing and modeling the great psychological thrillers of the 20th century. That Dickens' characterizations remain fresh and wholly recognizable with their all too human frailties is evident in modern day presentations of this work – both in theatre and television.
Edwin Drood is Dickens's last novel. It is about a young man who mysteriously disappears and the resulting search for him. The best and worst part about this novel is that it has no ending: Dickens died before he finished it. So the reader never finds out what happened to poor Mr. Drood. This makes the novel a true mystery and allows the readers to form their own theories. It also makes the novel incredibly annoying if you're someone who likes to know things for certain. There is a theory out there (based off of a letter Dickens wrote to a friend explaining a new plot that he was thinking about), but there's no definitive answer. However, the parts of the book that made it to paper are fantastic. The writing is wonderful, the characters are very interesting, and the atmosphere is intoxicating. One of the most amazing things about the narrative is Dickens's ability to make a cathedral a constant, brooding presence, even chapters after he last mentions it. Edwin Drood is also a great character and very amusing. The novel is full of suspicious characters, any one of whom could have done Drood in. Or maybe Drood's still alive? We'll never know; however, despite the lack of closure, this novel is definitely worth a read.
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