An astonishing first novel about the allure of the con man, the journey of a young man in search of his father, the loss of innocence and the works of Charles Dickens. Full of adventure, tricks, imagination and originality, The Snake-oil Dickens Man is the assured debut from an exciting new writer.
It is 1867 and Charles Dickens has arrived in Boston on his second reading tour of America. Meanwhile in Hayes, Missouri, Billy Talbot leaves town in search of his father after he has been told that he is the illegitimate son of the author of Great Expectations. Billy’s journey is rich with tricks, disguises and chance meetings that lead him to Hope Scattergood, a consumptive charlatan with his own interest in the great writer. Together Scattergood and Billy devise the ‘Dickens Lay’, a con that may lead Billy to a meeting with his father, the real Charles Dickens.
The Snake-oil Dickens Man, Ross Gilfillan’s remarkable first novel, tells a story that stretches from the clamour of Barnum’s circus rushing through the grassy plains of Missouri to the packed and riotous theatres of New York, and resonates with the writings of Charles Dickens. The Snake-oil Dickens Man is an unforgettable tale of adventure, confidence tricks and the loss of innocence.