- Series: Coffee with...Series
- Hardcover: 144 pages
- Publisher: Duncan Baird (March 4, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844836088
- ISBN-13: 978-1844836086
- Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,252,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Coffee with Dickens (Coffee with...Series) Hardcover – March 4, 2008
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Imagine a traveller in Cobham, Kent, in the summer of 1870. He sees a charming inn called the Leather Bottle on the side of the road and decides to stop in for a cup of coffee or a pint of porter. And there he meets the ghost of Charles Dickens, dead these seven weeks. And why not? Dickens himself has taught us that spirits can do anything. And so begins a delightful and informative conversation between a stranger and Charles Dickens.
We are privileged to listen in on the conversation that ensues. The stranger has quite a knowledge of Dickens's life and works. Almost as much as a Senior Lecturer in English at a major university would have. Asking insightful questions he chats with Dickens about important questions about his life and his career - (over a bowl of steaming punch - the coffee of the title is never served.)
The first thing one notes from the conversation is how friendly and engaging Dickens is. He puts the stranger totally at ease. Which, according to a foreword by Peter Ackroyd, is exactly what the historic Charles Dickens would have done.
Dickens would jump from subject to subject and this little book records brief conversations between the Inimitable and the traveller about literature, the theatre, creative writing, religion, travelling, America, social issues, education, politics and the author's love of walking. It also touches on his illustrators, his publishers, his circle of friends and the women in his life. Not a word about Ellen Ternan of course. Few people knew about her in 1870 and although the traveller starts to ask about rumours he has heard, the Inimitable promptly quotes himself and declares the whispered rumours to be abominably false.
Unfortunately, the one question that I hoped the traveller would ask Dickens is never asked. And so we never hear what Dickens's spirit would have said about what really happened to Edwin Drood.
Written as a chance encounter at the Leather Bottle, a favorite watering hole of Dickens featured in the Pickwick Papers, a stranger invites the ghost of Dickens, 'shades of Jacob Marley', to share a coffee...or something stronger, and engages him in a lively and telling exchange. Dickens doesn't miss a beat, answering each question with the exuberance and vivacity he was known for as evidenced by his letters, speeches and essays. He remains in character throughout, refusing to comment on his affair with Ellen Ternan and chiding the interviewer severely for even asking. Each major point in his life is sufficiently covered just enough to whet the reader's appetite for, "More, please!" and the author does supply further resources in the back for those desiring a 'refill'.
Dr. Schlicke has kept the book light and airy and at the same time provided us with a fundamental understanding and insight into the life of this 'Inimitable' man. So pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy!
B. A. Zimmerman, Philadelphia Dickens Fellowship, February 7, 2008