Summary and book reviews of The Deadwood Beetle by Mylene Dressler

The Deadwood Beetle

by Mylene Dressler

The Deadwood Beetle
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2001, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2002, 242 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

The heartrending story of an old man taking his last chance towards an elusive redemption and the distant hope of love. A brilliant novel by a writer whose work the critics have called "lyrical" and "haunting."

Tristan Martens, a retired entomologist, is shaken by the discovery of his mother's sewing table in a New York antique shop. He hasn't seen it since he was a boy in Holland, but he vividly remembers the last time he did. Only Tristan knows the painful truth behind the scrawled--and misunderstood--inscription on the bottom of the table, and he embarks on a scheme to acquire it from the shop owner, Cora Lowenstein, who insists it's not for sale.

But as their lives become entangled, Tristan must make a choice. Can he tell Cora the truth? Begun in deceit, their relationship and Tristan's salvation hinge on his willingness to confront and finally confess the terrible secrets of his family's past.

In startlingly beautiful prose resonant with dramatic tension, Mylene Dressler tells the heartrending story of an old man taking his last chance and struggling toward an elusive redemption and the even more distant hope of love. The Deadwood Beetle is a brilliant novel by a writer whose work the critics have called "lyrical" and "haunting."

Chapter 1

When I first found my mother's battered little sewing table--or rather, first asked the silver-haired woman who managed the antiques store, or rather that section of the tenth floor with its expensive, museum-quality French Provincials, near the back of a building on West Twenty-fifth Street, in a room lit by pools of halogen light, what exactly the homely little table was, and what on earth it was doing there, tucked in among all the grand buffets and elegant secrétaires--I was careful to keep my damp hands very still, and to look down puzzled and unrecognizing at it, blinking from under my homburg, to make clear I was stunned only that she would have anything so ordinary, so obviously anachronistic and anonymous and crude and utterly out of keeping with the rest of her very fine and select trade.

I had just come up out of the street from one of my walks. I'd only wanted to get out of the sun for a moment, to shift the weight in my canvas grocery bag, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

Set in contemporary New York, with flashbacks to Nazi-occupied Holland, The Deadwood Beetle is the heartrending story of an old man taking his last chance and struggling toward an elusive redemption and the even more distant hope of love. In pitch-perfect and elegant prose, Dressler weaves a moving story about WWII and its aftermath that is truly different from any other, telling a deeply compassionate story about crippling guilt and the enduring, and very human, hope for love and forgiveness.


Discussion Questions

  1. Loss ripples through this novel. How, in the end, does loss create its opposite?
  2. History has a force all its own in this novel. Would you say Tristan has free will or is he trapped...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

The Austin American-Statesman

...elegant and ambitious....Dressler...explores the damages of hearts left untended and secrets left untold....a big achievement.

The Bloomsbury Review

A compelling read from start to finish, the prose shimmers...[an] elegantly polished novel...

The Baltimore Sun

Written with a kind of menacing grace, The Deadwood Beetle compels the reader down the converging lines of Marten's growing love for Lowenstein and the truth of his past to their inevitable collision.

Bullymag.com

...nearly perfect...impressive.

The Christian Science Monitor

Haunting...its execution is perfect....Dressler is a writer of chilling compression and suspense....a beautiful, sensitive story....

The Austin Chronicle

A work of sure-handed contemporary wonder, a graceful fiction...[Dressler's] portrayal of Tristan...recalls Martha Cooley's feats in her restrained but remarkable The Archivist.

Publishers Weekly

European world-weariness mingles with American optimism in this accomplished novel, dense with the scrap material of the past.

Library Journal

Finely crafted.

Author Blurb Susan Vreeland, author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue
absorbing . . . compelling, and inventive.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Deadwood Beetle, try these:

  • The Speed of Light jacket

    The Speed of Light

    by Elizabeth Rosner

    Published 2003

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A powerful debut about three unforgettable souls who overcome the tragedies of the past to reconnect with one another and the world around them.

  • When We Were Orphans jacket

    When We Were Orphans

    by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Published 2001

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    An English boy born in early-twentieth-century Shanghai, is orphaned at age nine when his mother and father both vanish under suspicious circumstances. Sent to live in England, he grows up to become a renowned detective and, 20 years later, returns to Shanghai, where the Sino-Japanese War is raging.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant – it tends to get worse.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.