“This charming epistolary novel is sure to appeal to any lover of Victorian fiction.”—Booklist
A retired New Jersey bank clerk, Larry Dickerson, comes into possession of his great-great-grandfather’s correspondence, an astonishing collection of the greatest nineteenth-century novelists: Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, Trollope, Hardy. At first, Dickerson is bent on getting as much money as he can from this stash, and sends off an email to Stephen Nicholls, the patient and helpful head of Christie’s manuscript department in London.
Nicholls leads Dickerson through the intricacies of the auction process but also helps him enter into the Victorian mind, a domain Dickerson eventually embraces with enthusiasm.
The result is a book that is part suspense novel, because we wonder if Dickerson will finally decide to sell the letters or keep them for himself; part literary tour de force, because the old letters lead us into the thoughts of the foremost novelists of the period; and part humorous tale, because of Dickerson’s personality. He is a character such as the department of heads at Christie’s have seldom encountered, and we watch as this unschooled, bluff, blunt man emerges into a self-educated Victorianist.
This charming epistolary novel is sure to appeal to any lover of Victorian fiction.
A charming diversion: N. John Hall, best known for his biography of Anthony Trollope, here delivers a novel in letters about a retired New Jersey bank clerk who comes into possession of his great-great-grandfather’s correspondence with an all-star cast of nineteenth-century novelists: Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and the aforementioned Mr. Trollope among them. His attempts – through communications with an auction house – to understand the value of what he has inherited make this curious book a leisurely treat.
—Barnes & Noble Review
Correspondence is a fascinating read that will prove hard to put down. Highly recommended.”
—Midwest Book Review, “The Fiction Shelf”
In this ‘Adventure in Letters,’ N. John Hall thus manages to convey a good
deal about the Victorian novelists and their aesthetics, and to do so
in a playfully entertaining manner.