by Alan Montgomery
In Charles Dickens’ classic novel, we learn little of the characters’ fate at the end, except for a few. Jack Dawkins, also known as “The Artful Dodger,” is one of these characters whose endings remain vague to this day. However, we know that Jack Dawkins was caught and sent to the New World, also known as the United States of America.
Alan Montgomery presents a remarkable continuation in his book. Appropriately called “The Further Adventures of Gentleman Jack and Mister Twist,” he summarizes what transpired in the final events of the novel through Jack Dawkins’ eyes. After confirming the fate of these characters, we follow Jack’s life as he is sent to the United States, who is now indebted to work for seven years. Fortune has bestowed upon the former pickpocket when he is indebted to Mr. Galting Stone. Stone is a former gem cutter whose connection to Jack is closer than what meets the eye.
The author does an incredible job of fleshing out Jack’s personality and growth. While we assume we know Jack in the first novel, we soon realize that we only know of “The Artful Dodger” and not much else.
In Further Tales, Montgomery does a fantastic job of showcasing Jack the person. Fortunately, he doesn’t strip Jack of his charm, quick thinking, and unique values we’ve come to know from the first book. Jack truly shines best when he is provided the chance to prove himself, but that doesn’t mean his former life as a pickpocket doesn’t come in handy from time to time.
Another thing I admire in Montgomery’s work is his careful depiction of Jack’s growth through dialogue. Jack’s cockney vernacular eventually shifts to one of a fine gentleman he always had the potential to be.
Nevertheless, Jack Dawkins isn’t the only character featured in this book. The author brings us back to the one and only Oliver Twist in the second half. Now adopted by Mr. Brownlow, the author makes it a point that we are not robbed of his journey to growth. While we get a glimpse of him bidding Jack goodbye before he leaves for America, the book brings the focus to him in the second half of the book.
With the author’s expertise in Dickens’ characters, it’s almost heartbreaking that we don’t see this touching reunion of the Artful Dodger and Mister Twist in most adaptations. Fortunately, the author makes this work not only true to the original book but to his own style as well.
– The Moving Words Review
Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 2, 2023