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The Dante Club

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THE DANTE CLUB By Matthew Pearl

Wow! This was one of the most engrossing first novels I have ever read. Matthew Pearl has created a fascinating suspense novel using the real life characters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes and publisher J.T. Fields – the founding members of the Dante Club. It’s 1865 Boston and these men of letters have set about the task of translating Dante’s The Divine Comedy for the first time in America. They are engrossed with this work, despite the protestations of the Harvard academic elite who think working in the overly passionate living language of Italian beneath them.

Suddenly, gruesome killings begin to take place around Boston. To their horror, the members of the Dante Club realize that the murders mirror Hell’s punishments from Dante’s Inferno. But how could they? Aren’t these scholars the only minds to know Dante’s work in America?

Not only is the story gripping and the use of the real-life American literary figures captivating, but Pearl captures the language of the late 1800s in his dialogue and narration with real grace. I enjoyed the book on so many levels – for its mystery, for its history, and for the way it inspired me to want to read Dante again since it was required reading in my early college days. Bravo! On the bestseller list for four weeks, The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl is a must read. On the Book Beat for KSL Newsradio 1160, I’m Amanda Dickson.

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