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edwin droodTitle: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Writer: Charles Dickens

Publisher: Dover Thrift Editions (2005,first published 1915)

Pages: 224p

Bought at: Kinokuniya Plaza Senayan (IDR46k)

“The only one of Dickens’s novels which he did not finish was the only one that really needed finishing”, GK Chesterton wrote in the introduction for this book. Many of Dickens’s novels (although I’ve only read a few so far) had predictable endings and plots, but his last book was the first detective story he’d ever written, and sadly, he passed away in the middle of the process, leaving a legendary unfinished book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Edwin Drood was a fine young man, an architect who lived in London. He was an orphan and the closest relative he had was his uncle Jasper. Edwin liked to visit Jasper in Cloisterham, a small Cathedral town, where his fiancee Rosa Bud also lived in The Nuns’ House (a girls boarding school). Edwin and Rosa had been engaged since they were only little children, due to some arrangement made by their parents, who all had died and left them as orphans.

Dickens was building the plot slowly and nicely, and there were several facts that became the keys of this book:

1. Jasper was an opium addict.

2. He was so jealous of Edwin’s and Rosa’s relationship – and he was kind of obsessed with the girl.

3. There were two newcomers in Cloisterham, brother and sister, Neville and Helena Landless. Neville and Edwin didn’t like each other, and they had a terrible dispute.

4. Edwin and Rosa decided they were better be friends than being engaged without love.

5. Edwin was missing. Nobody knew where he was, or even if he’d still alive.

6. There were several particular characters who somehow involved with the story- even in a still vague way: Durdles, the gravedigger who once showed Jasper the hidden places in Cathedral; Mr. Grewgious, Rosa’s guardian who was in love with Rosa’s mom, and had a very mysterious assistant named Bazzard; and also a newcomer in Cloisterham named Mr. Datchery. All had roles in the story, but sadly, their stories weren’t told completely yet.

Dickens showed that he’s a marvelous writer, no matter what kind of story he wrote. If Dickens had finished writing this book, the gothic detective story must have been a great one- even in unfinished state, it’s still brilliantly told. The plot revealed slowly, with interesting characters (and peculiar names!) and vividly gothic settings (I love the scene when Jasper and Durdles had their night adventure in the Cathedral). And the psychological touch! Jealousy, pride, or taking something for granted…Dickens explained the details of being a human, in an amazing way.

I just wish somewhere there were a stack of Dickens’s notes lying unread, the notes about the ending of his last book. But until then, let’s have as many theories as we like!

This post is written for Celebrating Dickens – a wonderful event hosted by Fanda. Thanks for hosting!


This posting is also submitted for TBRR Mystery Reading Challenge hosted by Hobby Buku =)