... James Osgood must find more about The
Mystery of Edwin Drood to try to save his
struggling publishing firm. Do you believe
Osgood has additional motivations, whether
personal or professional, for his quest?
... The character of Rebecca Sand is a young
working woman in Boston in the latter half of
the nineteenth century. What are some of the
interesting and surprising challenges facing her
in that situation that struck you? Do you think
she is properly appreciated by Osgood and the
... Dickens's death in 1870 and the incomplete
status of his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin
Drood, is at the heart of this novel's story.
For those who have read Drood before, how did
your knowledge of that novel influence your
reading of The Last Dickens? For those who
haven't read Drood, what did you learn about
that final Dickens novel, and would you go out
and read Drood now? Consider choosing Drood for
your reading group or class and debate how it
was to end or even “write” new endings.
... (follow up) The Last Dickens refers to the
last novel Charles Dickens wrote. Does the title
have any other meaning or significance to you?
If Fields, Osgood & Co. were publishing
Matthew's novel, and called you into their
offices at 124 Tremont Street demanding a title
change, what might you suggest? (Check out the trivia
page for some of the titles considered for the
... (follow up 2) There is much consternation
and excitement over The Mystery of Edwin Drood's
incomplete status among the characters in this
novel, propelling various actions. Other books
by famous authors that were never finished
include The Aeneid by Virgil, The Last Tycoon by
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Buccaneers by Edith
Wharton, A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway,
Septimus Felton by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and
Lesley Castle by Jane Austen. Some of these have
undergone attempts to be “completed” by other
writers or family members, as some of the
characters in The Last Dickens wish to do with
Drood. Should unfinished books like Drood have
new endings written, or be left as fragments?
... The novel's depiction of Charles Dickens is
based closely on history. What are some of the
facts of Dickens's life that most interested you
that you may not have known before?
... The novel depicts a dramatically different
period in the publishing world. What were some
of the things that surprised you to see how
books and publishing operated in the nineteenth
... (follow up) In our age of increasingly
digital media, how relevant are books and
publishing today? Discuss whether there will—and
should—be a time where physical books no longer
exist. What would be the implications of this?