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Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward

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What could be better for the holiday season than a Dickens retelling?

Jack Dawkins by Terry Ward
Published in: 2018
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

Synopsis from Goodreads: After Oliver Twist intervenes to save Jack Dawkins – the legendary Artful Dodger – from transportation to Botany Bay, Jack embarks on what proves to be a perilous quest to discover his roots. Before he can say ‘Fagin!’ he’s battling to survive a devastating flood and rescue beautiful black-haired, green-eyed Lysette Godden, the girl of his dreams, from the hands of murderous villains. Jack and Lysette, searching for Jack’s parents, head to France and have an adventure there which tests their mettle and mutual love to the utmost and changes their lives for ever.
Brilliantly and evocatively written, Jack Dawkins is a worthy sequel to Charles Dickens’s immortal masterpiece Oliver Twist.

Bookworm’s Thoughts:  I actually had the pleasure of meeting the author Terry Ward at this year’s Christmas Dickens Festival in Rochester (that’s Rochester England in case you were wondering) where he was suitable dressed up in Dickensian coat, tails and hat. Unfortunately for him as he was telling me he had more enquiries for the location of the toilets than he did about the book which is a real shame as it is an ideal read for the festive period. Needless to say I purchased myself a signed copy and unlike most books I purchase I have actually put aside the time to lose myself in the story.

I am ashamed to say that despite having read “Oliver Twist” I can’t actually remember the character of the Artful Dodger instead what I can remember comes from the numerous film and TV adaptations. Based on my memories Jack Dawkins in this book comes across as more of a “good boy” than he is in the adaptations that said he is not squeaky clean and he does get up to plenty of mischief. Jack is highly intelligent, picks up languages easily and like other Dickens characters he is primed for his conversion from street urchin to respectable citizen.

In the Dickens tradition this book involves several incredible coincidences, there are deceptions, good behaviour is rewarded, the bad are suitably punished and everything works out in the end even if it works out  in unexpected ways.

I enjoyed the references to characters from other works by Dickens although I didn’t catch them all, however for any you miss there is a handy reference section at the end of the book that tells the reader what they may have missed.

Overall this was an enjoyable way to spend an evening or 2.

Who would like this? The story is told in the first person which I know some readers don’t enjoy however if you don’t mind this kind of narration and you love everything Dickens (and who doesn’t?) then I would recommend giving this a go. The writing is more accessible than the original Dickens stories however that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just don’t go into this expecting the same level of writing as the man himself. There is some racist language used about the French but I am putting this down to a nod to the times when the story is set rather than any wish to offend, you have been warned.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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