Filed Under: Books

Drood by

Genre: ,
Setting: , ,

ISBN: 978184727957

My name is Wilkie Collins, and my guess, since I plan to delay the publication of this document for at least a century and a quarter beyond the date of my demise, is that you do not recognise my name.

On the 9th of June, 1865, ten passengers were killed when a train crashed at Staplehurst. Among the passengers who survived the disaster was the novelist Charles Dickens. Meeting his friend, Wilkie Collins, soon afterwards Dickens describes a strange individual he came across at the site of the crash. This man, Drood, is to drag both Dickens and Collins into the depths of Victorian London’s criminal and poverty stricken underbelly. Will he also lead to murder and insanity?

Drood

Drood - Dan Simmons

The one word that springs to my mind after finishing this book is, quite simply, conflicted. On the one hand it is a fascinating read, on the other its unreliable narrator is so very unpleasant. On the one hand, Simmons has created a wonderful version of Victorian London, full of gaslights, smoke, stars, detectives, and writers. But then again Simmons has also taken real people and made quite a few into very unlikeable individuals. Not only are their actions questionable, but their own internal justifications, which Simmons can never know, are there for us to see. I have to say that I have a bit of an issue with that. Not that I know any different about these people. And I am aware that this is a fictional book. Sure, there are truths and facts to it, but the Dickens and Collins in this book are fictional characters. They are not the real people. But, by using them as his central figures Simmons has coloured my views on both of them. Is that the fault of the reader or the author?

Whichever, it is, I suppose a side issue when talking about a novel. The real discussion should probably centre on the book itself.

And I found this a fascinating, if long, read. And long it is. And detailed. At times it seems to meander through the events almost looking for a central plot to tie it all together. In the end, of course it does, but there were times when I did want Simmons to “just get on with it” a little bit more.

But I can’t really discuss the book without reference to the ending. Show Spoiler ▼

I have no doubt my enjoyment of this book was somewhat spoiled by the fact that I’m not overly familiar with either of the central characters’ novels. I have, in some distant past, read The Moonstone but remember little of it. I do intend to read more by Collins. And as for Dickens, well, I’m afraid that I’ve tried a few and the only one I ever succeeded in enjoying A Tale of Two Cities but of the rest of it, meh is my recollection. Meh, and overlong.

There are loads of wonderfully interesting details, and I am interested in researching more about both. Whether I will or not I don’t know. I am quite lazy and full of procrastination.

Other reviews: Pajiba ; Musings from the sofa ; Literary Corner Cafe

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10 Comments

  • anne
    17 November 2010 - 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Two things – first, oh you sell it so well I really want to read this now. BUT I love both those authors and I'm not sure I can take the negative vibe… Can I, Fence, can I?!

    Second, you're linking to Pajiba?! That makes me so proud. ;)

    • 25 November 2010 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Well I did feel that Collins in particular was very hard done by, so have picked up a book by him and added it to Mt. TBR to see what he is like.

      But if you can ignore that then it is, in many ways, a fascinating read.

    • anne
      26 November 2010 - 4:48 am | Permalink

      A'ight, well, i'll get this when i know where i'm spending the next year. Let me know what you think of Collins when you've read him!

    • 26 November 2010 - 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Are you moving again? Still in New York? You really need to start blogging again so I can keep up with the escapades :)

  • 25 November 2010 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Despite some of the negative things you said this sounds tempting but, apart from a very few exceptions, I don't like long books and this is very long.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Bernard Rose’s Anna Karenina 1997
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Bernard Rose’s Anna Karenina 1997

    • 25 November 2010 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Simmons always seems to write long books, and there are parts of this one where you really do want him to get a move on. So maybe it isn't your cup of tea :)

  • 28 November 2010 - 6:01 am | Permalink

    I read this awhile back so it's hard to remember the details, but I DO remember he sure gave old Wilkie a bad shake. However, he made me interested enough in the man to check out a biography about him! It really was a good book. Not as sparkling as my Simmons' favorite, The Terror (SO AMAZING I COULD DIE), but still very good.
    Kelly´s last blog post ..They call her Weeble if they call her at all
    Kelly´s last blog post ..They call her Weeble if they call her at all

    • 29 November 2010 - 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Maybe I should read that the next time I'm looking for some Simmons then :)

  • 5 December 2010 - 5:01 am | Permalink

    I read this book in Oct and I agree with a lot of what you said. I loved the dark, gothic, gaslit London but I didn't like how the characters were portrayed…..it was hard for me to seriously consider either a murderer but it was still a fun read. For me it did drag bit in the middle….it was hard to stay focused and I was wanting more build up. And the ending seemed rushed and like there wasn't really an ending :(
    The Lit Bitch´s last blog post ..The dog was dead There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog The dog was called Wellington
    The Lit Bitch´s last blog post ..The dog was dead There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog The dog was called Wellington

    • 11 December 2010 - 11:04 pm | Permalink

      Still won't put me off reading more Dan Simmons' books though :)

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