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Book Review Monday: Lost, by Gregory Maguire December 28, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Book Reviews.
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This week’s book review is inspired by Gregory Maguire’s new release, Matchless.

Although you might not know his name, you’ve probably heard of Mr. Maguire: he’s the author of the best-selling novel, Wicked, inspiration for the renowned Broadway Musical. Mr. Maguire has written a number of other novels, many of which, like Wicked, retell a classic fairy tale from the perspective of the tale’s “villain”.

Although I read Wicked several years ago, enjoyed and would recommend it, this review is not about Wicked, nor about its sequel, Son of a Witch, nor even about Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister, which is sitting on my shelf at home. This review is about one of his less well known novels, one done in a slightly different style.

Unlike the retold classics Maguire usually writes, Lost is instead inspired by the circumstances that led to the creation of the classic, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Set in modern London, an author, Winifred Rudge, is staying in her distant cousin’s flat, while researching her new novel about Jack the Ripper. Legend has it, that the flat, once owned by her long-deceased great-great-grandfather, was visited by a young Charles Dickens, and the family lore maintains the old man was the inspiration for Dickens’ famous Ebeneezer Scrooge. Now, many years later, Winifred is convinced that a spirit is trapped within the home, and is determined to figure out if he is her great-great-grandfather, or maybe even Jack the Ripper. Winifred turns out to be a rather unstable character, which is not surprising considering she is searching for ghosts, and there is quite a good deal of emotional damage she is repressing which the reader does not learn until the end. To be perfectly honest, it is not one of Maguire’s best efforts, and I would prefer he stick to the creative reimagining of fairy tales, rather than invention of new material. However, despite this disappointment, I cannot help but be enthusiastic about his latest seasonal effort, Matchless, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl, one of my childhood favorites.

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