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      Death and Mr. Pickwick

      Stephen Jarvis 9780374139667

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A Conspiracy of Paper (Ballantine Reader's Circle)


A Conspiracy of Paper (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Cover



Reading Group Guide

1. Do you think Weaver should have constantly bailed Miriam out of trouble? What do you think about him not getting the girl in the end? Did you want to see them together or was the books' ending more believable?

2. Did this novel make you change your sentiments about the current stock market? Did it make you want to become more cautious in your own investments? Did you read it as a cautionary tale?

3. For many centuries orthodox Jewish communities have lived inside European societies but also outside of them. In what ways did Lienzo's fear harm his son? In what ways did it protect him? Do you think the Jews of the eighteenth-century London did themselves a service or disservice by closing themselves off?

4. The "gentlemen" at Sir Owen's club put Weaver in the uncomfortable position of having to speak for his entire culture. Have you ever been in a situation where you were the only minority (religious, racial, economic, etc.)? How did it feel to have a group looking at you as the spokesperson for your community? Can you think of any modern parallels?

5. Instead of praising his son, Benjamin, for defending the elderly Mrs. Cantas from anti-Semites, Lienzo strikes him? What did you think of Lienzo's behavior? What would it be like to live in constant fear of drawing attention to your community? Can you think of any modern parallels?

6. Who do you think was more honorable in his ways of doing business: the criminal Jonathan Wild, or Nathan Adelman? Why?

7. Near the end of the book, Adelman says to Weaver about the murder of Sir Owen, "You need only to believe, Mr. Weaver." And Benjamin answers, "Like the new finance . . .it is true only so long as we believe it is true." What do you think the author is trying to say about the future of the stock market by letting Weaver believe someone he knows is unreliable?

8. Have you ever been caught up in a mania like the South Sea Bubble? What did it teach you about fads? Would you allow it to happen again?

9. As a child, Benjamin idolized boxers for their ability to fight. Compare his physicality to his relatives' intellectual and financial pursuits. Do you think Weaver's attraction to boxing was a response to the precariousness of his community?

10. At the end of the book the powerful Adelman comes out on top. Yet he is a member of a disempowered group. Do the many conspiracies in this book ultimately benefit the disenfranchised, or the powerful?

11. Discuss the title A Conspiracy of Paper. Do you think the author used the word "paper" to evoke written histories and novels as well as money? Do you believe that history is written by those who come out on top? How do you think "paper" will fare in our increasingly electronic age?

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Robert Lockett, January 8, 2013 (view all comments by Robert Lockett)
Clearly written story of the early stock market. Makes it easy for a lay person to see how it grew into the monster that drives our economy today.
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Product Details

Liss, David
Penguin (Non-Classics)
Robertson, Imogen
New York
Stock exchanges
Mystery & Detective - Historical
Private investigators
Capitalists and financiers
Historical fiction
Detective and mystery stories
Mystery Historical
fiction;historical fiction;mystery;england;london;historical;18th century;novel;stock market;finance;historical mystery;jews;british;history;benjamin weaver;crime;murder;thriller;american;detective;historical novel;south sea bubble;contemporary fiction;ec
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Ballantine Reader's Circle
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.21x5.50x.90 in. .76 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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A Conspiracy of Paper (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Used Trade Paper
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$5.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780804119122 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A vortex of stock fraud and murder...[A] genre-stretching first novel."
"Review" by , "The plot draws you in from page to page....An evocation of English history that you can happily get lost in for days."
"Review" by , "An old-fashioned detective story, with London's teeming streets and taverns as its backdrop....An artfully constructed potboiler: the sort of thing that would make a good 'Mystery!' series on PBS."
"Review" by , "A tale of eighteenth-century finance, murder, and religion that is a remarkable debut and a thoroughly satisfying novel."
"Synopsis" by ,

London, 1781. Harriet Westerman anxiously awaits news of her husband, a ship’s captain who has been gravely injured in the king’s naval battles with France. As London’s streets seethe with rumor, a body is dragged from the murky waters of the Thames.

Having gained a measure of fame as amateur detectives for unraveling the mysteries of Thornleigh Hall, the indomitable Mrs. Westerman and her reclusive sidekick, anatomist Gabriel Crowther, are once again called on to investigate. In this intricate novel, Harriet and Crowther will discover that this is no ordinary drowning—the victim is part of a plot to betray England’s most precious secrets.

"Synopsis" by , Benjamin Weaver, a Jew and an ex-boxer, is an outsider in eighteenth-century London, tracking down debtors and felons for aristocratic clients. The son of a wealthy stock trader, he lives estranged from his family—until he is asked to investigate his fathers sudden death. Thus Weaver descends into the deceptive world of the English stock jobbers, gliding between coffee houses and gaming houses, drawing rooms and bordellos. The more Weaver uncovers, the darker the truth becomes, until he realizes that he is following too closely in his fathers footsteps—and they just might lead him to his own grave. 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. . . .
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