Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

A Conspiracy of Paper -- book cover

Thursdays With Maureen met this month to discuss A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss.  Many of our members go to sunnier locales to forget the dreary, cold Indiana winters.  The four members attending all agreed we had a good discussion and  because the group was so small we got to know each other a little more.  We talked about everything ranging from the actual book we were supposed to discuss to travel in Tanzania, Savannah and Charleston, working as a CASA volunteer and finding satisfaction in retirement.

Some who attend book clubs do not want to deviate from the book but to me book clubs are also about meeting new people and making friends.  Everyone has their own story so why not count that as part of the discussion?

One member didn't have time to read this month's selection but the other three agreed it was good but rather long.  This was the author's first novel.  He was supposed to be writing his dissertation on 18th century British literature and culture but got caught up in this fictional story.  He never did finish that dissertation.

The author's web site describes the book as follows:  "Benjamin Weaver is an outsider in eighteenth-century London: A Jew among Christians; a ruffian among aristocrats; a retired pugilist who, hired by London’s gentry, travels through the criminal underworld in pursuit of debtors and thieves.  ...Weaver becomes entangled with a crime... involving the mysterious death of his estranged father, a notorious stock-jobber.  ...Weaver uncovers the beginnings of a strange new economic order based on stock speculation – a way of life that poses great risks for investors, but real dangers for Weaver and his family.  An enthralling historical thriller, a Conspiracy of Paper will leave readers wondering just how much has changed in the stock market in the last three hundred years…"

We all agreed that this was a worthwhile book although the mystery part of it got  bogged  down and became a little hard to follow.  One of the characters is a real person and Benjamin Weaver is based upon a real fighter who is credited with starting modern day boxing.  The story occurs in 1719 right before the very real first stock market crash.

The setting is fantastic. You, as a reader, feel as if you are walking the streets of 18th century London, the smells, the people, the taverns all come alive.  The author definitely knows how to evoke this particular time and place.  It was especially interesting due to the recent problems in the stock market.  We all would definitely say check it out!

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