No Thoroughfare

By Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins

            I have written in the past in my reviews of books by Francis Trollope, the mother of Anthony Trollope, that it is possible today to get classical books for free from sources such as amazon, and many of them are fun to read. I encouraged readers of good literature to take advantage of these sources. The books are now made available at no cost because they are public property; their copyright has expired. “No Thoroughfare” by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, two superb writers, is a good example of an excellent book to read. It is a mixture of a play within a novella. Readers may be surprised to find that this book is a mystery.

There are essentially three plots filled with interesting characters, the kind that these master writers are able to invent. One plot focuses on a foundling who believes that he was taken by his real mother from the institution when he was just entering his teen-age years. She, a wealthy woman, was also convinced because of unusual circumstances that the boy is her own son. The two lived together in a warm and loving relationship for about half a dozen years. When she died, she left her estate to the young man she believed was her son. Then a circumstance arose that revealed to the young man that he was not the woman’s true son. He feels very guilty and thinks that the woman who gave him his current wealth really wanted it to go to her natural child. He makes every effort he can to find this person.

The second plot focuses on this young man’s business partner. He falls in love with a young Swiss woman who also loves him, but the woman is young and under the control of a guardian who refuses permission to the marriage unless the young man can double his income. The young man feels confident he can do so. The young woman goes along with the agreement feeling she owes it to her guardian who is apparently considering what is best for her. However, there is something strange about this guardian. The young man is unable to put his finger on the problem.

The third plot is that just at this moment, when the young man needs all the money he can get to double his income, a huge amount of money is stolen from the firm. Who took the money and how was it done. The guardian is acting strangely. Is he involved?

Readers will enjoy this tale and those who are familiar with the style of the two great writers will, besides enjoying the drama and the manner in which it is presented, find it interesting to see how the two styles intertwine.