Helena Landless

Helena Landless

by Deanna Madden


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Helena Landless and her twin brother Neville travel from Ceylon to England after the death of their stepfather. In the sleepy cathedral town of Cloisterham they become entangled in the mysterious disappearance of young Edwin Drood one stormy night. Did hot-headed Neville murder him in a fit of temper, as Edwin's grief-stricken uncle insists? Could he have accidentally drowned following a night of carousing or even taken his own life? Or did he fall victim to an enemy no one suspects? In a story that ranges from the picturesque quaintness of an English cathedral town where not everyone may be as respectable as they appear to the dark streets and seedy back alleys of Victorian London, a determined young woman sets out to prove her brother's innocence by discovering what really happened that fateful night. Based on Charles Dickens' last, unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Helena Landless re-tells the story from the point of view of a young woman with secrets of her own caught up in the events surrounding the mysterious disappearance of Edwin Drood.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692559154
Publisher: Flying Dutchman Press
Publication date: 10/04/2015
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)

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Helena Landless 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
“ And if he was murdered,” I said, “Who was the murderer?” “Perhaps we will never know,” he said. “Perhaps it is one of those mysteries never meant to be solved.” Edwin Drood is dead, and Helena Landless is out to prove her twin brother was not the culprit. However, in a world where who you are and who you know counts, can she prove the murder might not be as it seems? Based loosely on the unfinished manuscript (turned stage play) by Charles Dickens that was discovered in his papers after his death in 1870. And Madden has used it as the foundation of and entertaining story set in Victorian England that, at times skewers the expectations of the “landed” gentry as they try to solve the mystery that brings them all together in a way they probably wouldn’t otherwise. Utilizing Dickens’ notorious way of characterizing people by their names and descriptors, the author takes people out of the safety of their comfort zones into the seedy backstreets of London, and tells the story through the eyes of a woman who is unaware of what is expected of her as she moves towards maturity and unexpected acceptance in a world where she has no roots. This book does have some plodding moments. I found myself wishing things moved faster and I think that’s exactly what Madden set out to do: to not change Dickens but to use both his manuscript and historical sociology to solve The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
StephanieTiner More than 1 year ago
Cloisterham is a charming little English town, where everyone knows everyone. But just how well can one actually know one’s neighbors? On a stormy Christmas Eve in Cloisterham, young Edwin Drood disappeared. After a frantic search, it would appear that Edwin had been murdered, the last man to see him alive was Neville Landless. Now the town believes Neville is a murderer, but with no body, they are unable to prove that a murder even occurred. Helena Landless, Neville’s twin sister, is positive that her brother did not murder Edwin Drood, but who did and why? Helena is determined to prove her brother’s innocence and discover what really happened on that stormy Christmas Eve. Will she be able to clear her brother before anyone else turns up dead? I recently read “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” by Charles Dickens specifically because I wanted to read this book. “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is Charles Dickens’ final, unfinished work. Due to the fact that he died before finishing this story, there is no ending, and “Helena Landless” by Deanna Madden provides an interesting and unique conclusion to his final novel. The cover is simple and intriguing, featuring a small town, including the church tower, covered in snow at sunset. Above the image of the town is a woman, from the back of her shoulders to her chin, with her head turned back to look over her shoulder. All throughout the sky, lightning is flashing. I enjoyed this novel. It begins the moment when Neville and Helena arrive at Cloisterham one night. On their first night, Neville and Edwin have an argument, which is why when Edwin disappears on Christmas Eve after having dinner with Neville and Jasper, Edwin’s uncle, leads the town to suspect that Neville killed him. I must admit that when I first began reading this novel, it was a little slow. This, however, was not the fault of the author or the book. Instead it was because I read “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” shortly before reading this novel and so a good portion of the beginning was recap. The novel was interesting, I enjoyed the many unexpected twists and new characters. Reading the story from Helena’s view point also gave the story I had already read a new perspective. The ending was a huge surprise and, for the most part, very satisfying. Especially when compared to the lack of an ending in Dickens’ novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who ever wanted to read “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” but couldn’t bring themselves to read it. I would also recommend this book to anyone who has read Dickens’ novel and wants, or needs, an ending. If you have not read “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” but want to read “Helena Landless,” I would recommend going straight for “Helena Landless” and not reading Dickens’ book first. I won my copy of this novel from Goodreads Firstreads and have permission from the author to use the image featured above.
WhisperingStories More than 1 year ago
Unfinished at the time of his death, Charles Dickens’, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, has continued to inspire writers. At least five or six books, a mock trial in 1914, four films, a radio play, a television drama and several theatrical performances, have all attempted to provide the missing end. Now Deanna Madden, a very good writer indeed, has also taken up the challenge, and she tells the story from a young woman’s point of view. Helena Landless, just arrived from Ceylon, befriends the beautiful Rosa Bud and does her best to protect her new friend from the amorously obsessive choirmaster John Jasper. Madden plunges us into the Dickensian world, delights us with historically accurate scenes — the murky night streets, opium dens, raucous theatre-goers and street urchins. But if the setting lacks development and variety, if it seems like a too-tidy stage set, perhaps that’s because the vanished world can only be imagined: Dickens had the advantage of living in it. Madden’s heroine is very much a twenty-first century creation, with all the psychology and protest of a young woman dropped into a time of different manners and mores. Can we really believe in her? Do we have to? The story is quick, lively and beautifully written at first, but it does slow. Dickens was a social critic, lashing out at the pompous and pretentious, at the day’s inferior education, at the dreadful social conditions. He exaggerated, knowing only exaggeration would provoke change. Social change is not Madden’s premise, and its bite is lacking. Yes, Dickens could be ridiculously sentimental, and preachy too; Madden can’t be accused of either. But there is no mockery either; and there are none of his ridiculous, seedy, even vile characters. We need them. When everyone in this modern cast of characters is warm, jovial, generous, brave, helpful or just misunderstood; when all cheer each other on as a perfectly adorable alternative family group, we do feel slightly cheated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting take on The Mystery of Edwin Drood. There have been so many re-tellings and so many guesses about how Dickens might have ended it, but this novel gives the story a new twist with a female POV. Helena makes a wonderful heroine, curious, intelligent, brave, and determined. I'd recommend it to lovers of historical fiction and fans of Edwin Drood.