Blurb from Goodreads
Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has gripped the public imagination since it was first published in 1843, and it is now as much a part of Christmas as mistletoe or plum pudding. It is a ghost story set at Christmastime in which a bad-tempered skinflint learns the error of his ways. Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas and all it stands for, but a ghostly visitor foretells three apparitions who will thaw Scrooge’s frozen heart.
This edition includes all the original illustrations for A Christmas Carol and reprints the story alongside Dickens’s four other Christmas Books: The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man. All five stories show Dickens at his unpredictable best, jumbling together comedy and melodrama, genial romance and urgent social satire, in pursuit of his aim ‘to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts, never out of season in a Christian land’.
A Christmas Carol
It’s hard to credit that I’ve been reading Dickens since I was 12 years old and yet this is the first time I have ever sat down to read A Christmas Carol. I think anyone who celebrates Christmas (and even those that do not) must be intimately familiar with the story of miserly Scrooge and how he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and how these night visits change him for the better.
‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.’
The story is truly wonderful. And I don’t know if that’s because it is so familiar and comforting and because it makes me truly feel Christmassy. Or if it’s because Dickens was an utter genius at storytelling.
To me it’s a combination of both. Reading the original, stripped away from all the Hollywood razzmatazz and muppets, brings the reader truly face to face with a tantalising glimpse of the Dickensian world. And with the way that Dickens carefully layered his story to give us an understanding of how Scrooge had become his miserly self and how it was entirely plausible that this cold hearted man could change over night. And it also brings into sharp focus the disparity between rich and poor and teaches the modern reader, in much the same way as it taught the Dickensian reader, to be thankful for the privileges of our lives and that sharing and caring is the only way to true happiness.
The sights and sounds of the novel are entirely tangible. I really felt like I was existing within this world with Scrooge and the spirits. (Kudos to this particular Oxford Classics edition though. The annotations and footnotes were certainly helpful)
But what really got me is how the Dickensian Christmas is still similar to the Christmas I know and love. It’s as if Dickens himself is responsible for so many of our traditions… And in some ways he is. For he has forever memorialised Christmas festivities for countless generations to come.
‘God bless us everyone’ indeed.
Impossible not to give it five stars
This book also contains the following stories:
- The Chimes
- The Cricket on the Hearth
- The Battle of Life
- The Haunted Man
I wasn’t as taken with any of these stories and therefore am lowering my rating to four stars overall for this collection.