Friday, June 07, 2013


Dodger  by Terry Pratchett

Read and thoroughly enjoyed on my nook.

I've tried to read the discworld novels and they  just aren't for me.  I really do feel very bad about that.  They seem like the kind of thing that I should really really like. And yet, I can't.   I am completely in awe of Pratchett's ability to create an entire universe, so there's that.  I am hell bent on exploring the rest of Pratchett's books in an attempt to make up for what must be my horrible shortcoming.  So, I purchased Dodger and Good Omens, a book he wrote with Neil Gaiman.  Just because Discworld, as impressive as it is, doesn't do it for me, I've gotten the chance to really enjoy the genius that is Terry Pratchett with Dodger.

It is the story of a young man, living in the Seven Dials Rookery (Victorian England) with his friend, Solomon, an elderly Jewish man who's had wonderful, mysterious adventures all over the world.  He has taken responsibility for helping Dodger grow into as fine a man as he can.  It's a tough job, but he's very good at it.  Dodger makes his living, if you can call it that, as a tosher.  A tosher is someone who scavenges the things people drop in the sewers, and he is extremely good at it.  One evening, he spies a woman being beaten and he rushes in to her defense.    It turns out that Simplicity, as she calls herself, is actually the young bride of a foolish Germanic prince, whom she ran from.  Charlie Dickens and his friend Henry see the entire exchange and provide Simplicity with care and hospitality at Henry's home.  Charlie takes an interest in Dodger and the two become unlikely friends, colleagues and co-conspirators.  

Pratchett introduces us to a variety of real historical figures and has their paths cross in some of the most interesting ways.  Benjamin Disraeli and Henry Peel figure into the plot to keep Simplicity safe. When Henry Mayhew's home is no longer safe enough for the girl, she comes under the care of the amazing Angela Burdett-Coutts.  Together, with Solomon and a few other key figures they work together to keep Simplicity from being harmed while avoiding an international incident.

I loved the meshing together of real and fictional people in this story.  Disraeli and Peel and Dickens and Burdett-Coutts are all fascinating historical figures in their own right.  The blend of real and fiction is done really well here.  You've got Dodger, in a very sympathetic manner, facing off (no pun intended) against Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, which was a great new way of looking at that character, too.  I read this on the heels of Oliver Twist, which gave it another level of interest for me.  I like this Dodger far better than the Artful Dodger of Dickens tale, but then I always felt so terrible for little Oliver, that I was ready to head out to old skool England and start banging some heads together. 

 There is the slight possibility that I may get a little too involved in my books.  The truth is, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Of course, this accounts for my, often, over the top, love or hate, or my love and hate of the things I read.  It all plays a part.  When a book is really enjoyable, my over-immersion can be an asset.  I think Dodger was a case where it worked best.

I'm sure most people in the book world are aware of Mr. Pratchett's rapidly declining health due to the early onset of a form of Alzheimer's. Any fans who haven't seen this article should check it out.  It's sad and hopeful all at once.  He's handing down the reins of Discworld to his daughter and she'll be working on the BBC series being created.  Pratchett even made his own trailer for Dodger.  Check it out:

1 comment:

Judy Krueger said...

Interesting. I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan but I did not like Good Omens much at all. I blamed it on Terry Pratchett and vowed never to read him again. This one sounds like it might be OK for me though.