It is not a stretch to say that Louis Bayard is the favorite author of the Kewaunee Library Book Club. I’ve been in the Book Club for four years and joined it shortly after I moved to Kewaunee. Over this past year the club has read The Black Tower, The Pale Blue Eye, and now Mr. Timothy. We are working our way backwards through Bayard’s repertoire! Bayard writes a wonderful “literary thriller” novel that captivates all of the members of my book club. Each novel that we have read has had a fascinating set of characters as well as a wonderful unique historical setting.
Mr. Timothy is the story of a grown up “Tiny Tim.” With his Uncle Ebenezer’s (or Uncle “N”) help, Timothy became a man with a slight limp and a great education. Uncle N’s help left Timothy with a sense of always wanting something greater than circumstances allowed. After his father’s death, Timothy finds himself adrift in Victorian England. He takes residence in a brothel and pays rent by teaching the madam how to read. Traveling through the foggy streets of London and trolling the Thames River for dead bodies with his friend Captain Gully, Timothy discovers the remains of two terrified 10-year old girls with the letter “G” branded on them. After rescuing a homeless, terrified similar girl named Philomela, Timothy is determined to solve the mystery of what is happening to these young girls. With the help of his young street friend, Colin, the trio has a terrifying and thrilling adventure.
While this novel was slow at first, once I got into it, it was hard to put down! The mystery and adventure were thrilling and had me so enraptured I was reading it in the snow outside while my two sons played. I also was intrigued by what happened to Timothy as he grew up and the entire Cratchit family. It was very interesting to ponder what exactly Scrooge’s help after A Christmas Carol would do to this family. I loved the Victorian detail. I could see Timothy walking the rough streets of London. Bayard does Dickens justice by not only having a thrilling mystery, but also writing about the tough life that children and working people faced in Victorian London.
Overall, if you love Dickens, Victorian London, or just a good historical fiction thriller, I highly recommend this novel.
I read this book for our January pick of the Kewaunee Library Book Club. We’ll be discussing the book on the 21st and I can’t wait! The edition I have has great extras such as an author biography, author interview, A Christmas Carol quiz, Christmas Carol fun facts, and an excerpt from A Pale Blue Eye (another excellent “literary thriller” about Edgar Allen Poe).
My favorite quote (Timothy is dictating a letter to his dead father):
“Herewith my predicament, Father; I no longer possessed a narrator. Uncle N had abdicated the role. And you . . . you were willing, yes, but your story has finished. I was well now, wasn’t I? I no longer needed to be Good. For you or for anybody. And so that left me to be free otherwise.”
As you can see from the quote, Mr. Timothy is not only a thriller, but a coming of age novel. I love Timothy’s explorations to find himself and understand the true nature of his father and their relationship.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library