The Washington Post
History's famous literary duo Johnson and Boswell are stalked by Boswell's mad younger brother.
The Washington Post
Baruth (The X-President) shows his versatility with this chilling literary thriller. In 1763 London, John Boswell, the resentful younger brother of Samuel Johnson's future biographer, is stalking Boswell and Johnson, who have recently become friends. John bribes the boatmen who ferry his quarry on the Thames for the smallest details of their conversations. As he remembers the past, John reveals a personal link with the great lexicographer, with whom he once shared a brief, close relationship. Despite the inherent lack of suspense about the outcome of John's murderous quest, the subtle way the author examines his character's twisted mind draws the reader in, as does the evocative prose, as illustrated, for example, in a passage describing St. James's Park at night ("the vast empty dirt-packed space... takes on a dull luminosity, picks up the leavings of the moon and gives back a quarter-light, just enough to perceive the outline of figures moving at one slowly from the trees"). (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this literary thriller, Baruth (English, Univ. of Vermont; The X President) uses the relationship between diarist James Boswell and his brother John as a lens to examine the complex and often troubled bond between the eldest son and a younger brother. The plot revolves around a boat trip Boswell took to Greenwich in 1763 with his famous literary patron, Samuel Johnson. John, recently released from a lunatic asylum and bearing two pistols, follows them there to force a violent confrontation-a sign not simply of his madness but of his lifelong ambivalence about James and his envy of James's burgeoning relationship with Johnson. The suspense is somewhat blunted by the reader's knowing that Johnson and James Boswell obviously weren't killed in 1763. Nevertheless, the book has a strong narrative thread and builds to a dramatic confrontation between the characters. Baruth grounds his narrative firmly in the extensive source material produced by Johnson and Boswell, and his depiction of Johnson is particularly convincing. For fans of historical fiction. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ1/09.]
“[An] accurate, original, and entertaining fictional reconstruction.”—The Boston Globe
“Remarkable.”—David Liss, author of The Devil’s Company
“It is a beautifully written novel, with the flavor of a literary work.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
- Soho Press, Incorporated
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Philip Baruth is a novelist and an award-winning commentator for Vermont Public Radio. His previous novel, The X President, was a New York Times Notable Book. He teaches at the University of Vermont in Burlington.
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In 1763 London, John Boswell hates his older brother James who has become friends with renowned lexicographer Samuel Johnson; by default John also loathes Johnson due to the company he keeps. Obsessed with his sibling, John stalks both men and pays Thames River boatmen for information on what the pair discussed when they ferry them.------------- John recalls when Johnson was his friend before his sibling usurped his relationship. Increasingly he considers fratricide as a means to right the wrong he believes James has done to him. He ponders whether to kill both men to ease the rage vibrating in his gut that seems to grow with every thought about the pair.------------ THE BROTHERS BOSWELL is an intriguing biographical suspense thriller that stars real Georgian Era writers. The triangle comes to life as each of the key three players seem genuine especially their interrelationships. Though the ending is obvious for anyone familiar with the classic biography Life of Johnson;, fans will feel the tension throughout as increasingly John is losing control of his mind fogged by his hatred, envy, and deep conviction that he has been wronged by his sibling and his former friend.------------ Harriet Klausner