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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 19th century tale of Mystery, Romance, and Murder
The American Boy is an enthralling tale that takes place in 19th century London. Thomas Shield is a schoolmaster, who, in the course of his duties, meets two young boys: Charles Frant and Edgar Allan. Through these boys, Mr. Shields is introduced to London's high society and in particular, two wealthy banking families: the Frants and Carswells. Shield is immediately...
Published on 9 Aug. 2006 by Clarence T. Henry

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HMMMMMM
I chose this book as it deviated from the most things I would read and I have quite mixed feelings about a review for this book. It took me quite a while to get into the story and at certain points it felt like I was reading a Sherlock Holmes story as opposed to anything else and at one point even expected a description of the Baskerville Hounds howling in the night...
Published on 5 Sept. 2005 by Mrs. D. Stevens


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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 19th century tale of Mystery, Romance, and Murder, 9 Aug. 2006
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
The American Boy is an enthralling tale that takes place in 19th century London. Thomas Shield is a schoolmaster, who, in the course of his duties, meets two young boys: Charles Frant and Edgar Allan. Through these boys, Mr. Shields is introduced to London's high society and in particular, two wealthy banking families: the Frants and Carswells. Shield is immediately attracted to the striking Mrs. Frant and Miss Carswell. But two murders propel the story forward to its unexpected, terrifying conclusion.

The author's fluid prose and authentic 19th century language is totally captivating. One gets immediately transported to the past unlike other historical novels. Don't get fooled: the story is about Thomas Shield's narrative account of the Wavenhoe banking family and the murder or disappearance of Mr. Henry Frant, not Edgar Allan Poe. The boy, who later becomes the famous mystery writer, is only peripheral character, and yet his actions, subtle as they are, actually affect the course of events. Taylor uses this technique brilliantly. Furthermore, the author's deft use of other historical events, such as the Banking crisis and the War of 1812, as well as an authentic portrayal of the notorious London slums make for a satisfying and gritty novel.
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148 of 152 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 500 pages of escapism bliss ! Buy it !, 20 April 2005
By 
M. J. Holland (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
Here's another book I only read because it was on the list of 10 books nominated for a Best Read Award on Richard and Judy. The author was new to me and I was also not in the habit of reading historical fiction. So this book was a wonderful surprise and having read it I could fully understand all the praise heaped upon it.
Once I began it was hard to put the book down.This is almost 500 pages of escapism bliss as Taylor's beautifully told tale slowly unfolds. It's a hybrid of historical and crime fiction that is incredibly atmospheric of nineteenth century London. The novel it most reminds me of,if you want a pointer, is Wilkie Collins' "Woman in White" and the fact that I compare it to that great classic shows how highly I think of this book.If you like Wilkie Collins or maybe even Charles Dickens you will love this book.
I see no point in revealing any details of the intricate plot as I'm sure any literate reader will be quickly gripped by Thomas Shield's quest.I will,however,say that I was pleased with the conclusion of the book, which is not one of those banal denouements where all the loose ends are miraculously tidied up and everyone lives happily ever after.
If you are looking for an engrossing and pleasurable read you cannot possibly go wrong with this book. I can guarantee that you will be enthralled and perhaps a bit sad that it isn't even longer !
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars almost riveting enough to pull a sickie for, 26 Jan. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
I hadn't seen any hype or reviews or indeed the blessed R&Judy when I bought this book - it just looked intriguing. I was utterly swept away by it and couldn't put it down. I found myself reading until 3am, and was glad of a day off as otherwise I would have been tempted to pull a sickie to finish it. The atmosphere, the story-telling, the landscapes, the descriptions: all were wonderful, and definitely reminiscent of the brilliant Wilkie Collins. Rarely has a book grabbed my attention and caught me up so dramatically as this one did.
BUT - and this is a big but - it all fell apart at the end. The unravelling of the plot was needlessly confusing and over-involved, and I felt deeply disappointed. I also felt not enough was made of Edgar Allan Poe - I was really expecting a final Poe-esque twist involving burials alive, or ravens, or something similar.
So - almost brilliant, but too complicated by half at the end. I wondered if he'd actually plotted the book, or whether after writing most of it he suddenly found himself having to come up with a solution to the mystery and couldn't find his way out.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining...., 8 Dec. 2005
By 
Fiona Allen "Fiona" (St Louis, France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
This book was a real page turner. I was hooked straight away! Sometimes I had to turn back a few pages and double check what had happened, not because the book was confusing but because I was so eager to discover the next part of the tale that I was not really concentrating on detail, which turns out to be important. The characters were easy to connect with and Thomas Shields quest was so intruiging that I could not put this book down.
Definitely recommended reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Enjoyable, 28 Sept. 2007
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
After reading the Roth trilogy by the same author, I felt suddenly bereft of a good book - so I turned to this book to fill a hole. The problem is that I have now finished it and there is yet another hole for me to fill.

The American Boy is superbly written. The style of writing matches that of someone from the early 19th Century which makes the whole thing even more compelling. You will be sucked back in time by Thomas Shield - the first person narrator of this book. I think that is part of the beauty of it.

Andrew Taylor has a wonderful ability to take you to unfamiliar territory but in the most subtle and elegant way make it seem familiar and intimate.

It is not a very fast paced novel, or a very slow one. The beginning could be seen as a slow one but I am not the kind of person who needs to enter a book running, so it doesn't bother me very much. I found the style and narration beautiful and also curious. I enjoyed the characters and the setting.

A brilliant book that begins slowly and then quickly snowballs into a completely satisfying climax. I would recommend.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page-turner, 14 Feb. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
It may be a cliche to use the term 'page-turner', but that's what this book is. There's an air of menace even in the most innocent of scenes, of something terrible just out of sight, that won't let you stop reading. The historical setting - from the sights and smells of nineteenth-century London to a snowbound country estate - is vividly conveyed without ever becoming turgid. Even the words in which this beautifully-crafted book is written have a subtle flavour of the nineteenth century. But what I like most about the novel is that it's a story about recognisable people, with real human emotions. The hero is someone whose fate the reader cares about, there's a whole cast of well-defined minor characters, and the story of the love affair that runs through the novel is delicately drawn, though none the less passionate for that. A most enjoyable book, which would certainly bear re-reading.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HMMMMMM, 5 Sept. 2005
By 
Mrs. D. Stevens "ddcm16" (London UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
I chose this book as it deviated from the most things I would read and I have quite mixed feelings about a review for this book. It took me quite a while to get into the story and at certain points it felt like I was reading a Sherlock Holmes story as opposed to anything else and at one point even expected a description of the Baskerville Hounds howling in the night! However I stuck with it and found that as it went on I began to care about the characters (something I rely on to happen quickly if a book is going to keep my attention) and was gradually drawn into their world. I think the writer's ability to incorporate aspects of historical fact of Mr Edgar Allen Poe into a fictional mystery/love story ensured this book turned out to be an enjoyable change of reading material.
I would encourage anyone who would like a break from the norm to read this novel. You will not be disappointed in the cleverness of merging histoy with fiction in this story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dickens for the 21st Century, 3 Mar. 2006
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
Andrew Taylor has worked enormously hard in making his tale as authentic as possible, and it has paid off. If you're not into Victorian novels then close this book before you look at the first page; but if you like clever, entrancing writing, delicate structure and beautiful description, then carry on.
Taylor's story is that of a young man who gets involved with a rather suspicious family and a horrific murder. One of the young boys he comes into contact with is named Edgar Allan Poe, and this early insight into Poe's life is well thought out as well as believable. Perhaps the tale would go a little slow for some tastes, but I found it most enjoyable.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely story, 14 Aug. 2006
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.It is my first book by the author and he did not disapppoint me.Fast-paced and beautifully written, this historical fiction is almost true to life with amazing characters and a plot that sets the standards.Union Moujik, Gilead, The Usurper and Other Stories are some of the other books I recently enjoyed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tense thriller, 27 Feb. 2011
This review is from: The American Boy (Paperback)
This is a tale of scheming intrigue, love, murder and revenge set in Regency London and Gloucestershire. The story centres around Tom Shield, an educated, headstrong young man with a blotted copybook. He has upset both the army he served and a previous employer to the extent that he is now considered a difficult person to take on. Nonetheless, the backing of his aunt secures him a position as tutor at a boy's school where, if he can stay out of trouble, he can perhaps look forward to improving prospects. He has two particular students; Edgar Allan Poe is an American boy whilst his friend, Charles Frant, comes from a family of the nouveau riche of the time. A journey to the Frant household, chaperoning Charles on a home visit, begins Tom's involvement in a seemingly inescapable series of increasingly threatening events.

Andrew Taylor skillfully exposes both sides of the Regency coin, wealth and extravagance is in stark contrast to the stacked, insanitary hovels of Seven Dials where London's mob festered in gin-sodden poverty, and as Tom Shield's story meanders between the two, both sides deliver life-threatening possibilities.

Taylor is his best critic in a way, as at one point Shield himself says the story is one of interupted conversations where we never hear the end of a scene and this does indeed become irksome for the reader as much as Shield. As soon as Shield enters a room for a few moments solitary contemplation we soon realise it is only so that he can be, yet again, interupted. It all becomes a little too predictable. That said, the twists and turns taken as the tension builds ensure we keep reading and the story line is a clever one. Taylor's research of both situation and contemporary language ring true and give this book a real edge, whilst setting it before the advent of a police force means it does not become yet another detective thriller. A fine addition to Taylor's growing list of literary achievments.
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The American Boy
The American Boy by Andrew Taylor
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