the good book corner

Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews

The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl


“It is the real power of a book—not what is on the page, but what happens when a reader takes the pages in, makes it part of himself. That is the definition of literature”….quoted from The Last Bookaneer.

I had not heard the word bookaneer before and because it had the word ‘BOOK’ in it, I was intrigued.

Book’a-neer’ (bŏŏk’kå-nēr’), n. a literary pirate; an individual capable of doing all that must be done in the universe of books that publishers, authors, and readers must not have a part in

Matthew Pearl is known for his historical fiction and this one bears his ingenious trademark. The main protagonist of this piece of literature is the “BOOK’. Set in late 1800s, the story takes it inspiration from the ambiguous copyright laws that plagued the publishing world for centuries.Books could be easily published without the author’s permission. The publishers benefited as did the ordinary people,who could buy books inexpensively. The authors on the other hand, suffered financial repercussions, even though they became popular. Within this framework, Pearl’s characters weave an intricate and captivating tale of adventure, deceit, love and revenge.

The story starts with the bookseller Fergins narrating the tale of bookaneers to a book hungry Clover, a railway waiter for the New York Central and Hudson River railroad company. Fergins’ tryst with these infamous literary thieves takes him all the way to Samoa, where Robert Louis Stevenson is labouring over his last manuscript. With Pen Davenport, one of the last bookaneers, this ordinary and inconspicuous bookseller travels across oceans, for the final heist. The distinct culture of the South Pacific islands, the bohemian lifestyle of Stevenson and the entry of a rival bookaneer, make this epic feat an uphill task.Pearl manages to bring the journey and the adventure in Samoa to life with his vivid descriptions and impressive narrative. The historical references from the nineteenth- century are accurate and the author has very cleverly managed to build an astonishing fictional account around the grey area surrounding this period in history.

Now if you love books, Matthew Pearl’s The Last Bookaneer is just the book for you. Some of the quotes in this book are brilliant and will stay with every book lover for a long time.

“When they dreamed of turning iron and metal into gold, they called it alchemy. The much more far-fetched dream of turning bound sheafs of plain paper into fortunes, they call publishing”….quoted from The Last Bookaneer.

You know, Mr. Clover, when most people read a book, they take from its story happiness and strife, good and evil, morality and sin, so on and so on. That is not what is most important. It is always in the parts that we cannot fully understand—the holes in a story, the piece missing— where the real truth of the thing lurks.”quoted from The Last Bookaneer.

If I was to include every little quote, every fact, that caught my attention, this review would take away the reader’s pleasure of turning the pages and stumbling on these little treasures. This one is definitely one for your library, because
…………..”A man’s library opens up his character to the world”( The Last Bookaneer).


About artikaaurorabakshi

Artika Aurora Bakshi Artika Aurora Bakshi is the author of three well-acclaimed children’s books,My Little Sikh Handbook, My Little Sikh Handbook 2: Ardas, My Little Sikh Handbook: Travel Journal, and an anthology of stories, Hold On To Me. Her first story, set in Amritsar, during the pre-Partition period, All She Had Left, was published on Story Mirror. She co-manages, a manuscript help and book review site. Her passion for reading has led her to helping other writers with their manuscripts. She comes from a family of lawyers and has a master’s degree in International Banking & Finance. Currently based in Sri Lanka, she teaches Commerce and History on a part-time basis at an international school and enjoys being part of the literary scene in Sri Lanka. A regular at the Galle Literary Festival and other literary events in Sri Lanka, Artika’s articles and book reviews have featured in the Daily Mirror, Daily News, The Ceylon Chronicle, and various blogs, such as,,, She was actively involved with SAARC Women’s Association of Sri Lanka and was President of the Association in 2016. An avid reader, Artika runs an online book club with a membership base of over 600 members. Her quotes are featured under soul.nightingale on Instagram and on Soul Nightingale by Artika Aurora Bakshi on Facebook. Artika is also working on her fourth children’s book in the My Little Sikh Handbook series and a second anthology of stories for adults. You can reach Artika at .

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2015 by in Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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