Reviewing: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It’s Christmas Eve! Welcome to my last book review of 2018, thank you so much for reading, liking, following and talking about books with me this year. Blogging has been so much fun, and you guys are the best readers I could ask for! So Merry Christmas – and on with the review! 💜

So it wouldn’t be Christmas on a book blog without mentioning A Christmas Carol at least once in passing, and this Christmas Eve I have decided to read the story itself for you all. I once saw a one-man performance of A Christmas Carol at my local library, which was astonishing, and find that Dickens’s work always works very well if read aloud so for this review I decided to dip my toes into reviewing an audiobook! As I was listening to it, any quotes used might have slight punctuation errors – it’s sometimes hard to tell a full stop apart from a comma – but I’ve done my best! I went for the unabridged Audible version read by Miriam Margolyes and I thoroughly enjoyed it if any of you are interested! Even the most thrilling of books can be made tedious by a monotonous reader, but Margolyes was incredibly enthusiastic and I hugely enjoyed it. It’s also very short, surprisingly so, so I got it done in one day at work.

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.”

We all know the story – Scrooge is a miserly old man who despises Christmas and all who celebrate it, branding it wasteful. He is also, I found, very funny, quite awkward and more relatable that I’d care to admit. When a ghost appears in his bedroom his initial response is to ask if it can sit down, and if it could would it like to. He cracks jokes to hide his own terror at said apparition, and his literal reaction to ghosts visiting him for the good of his welfare is that getting a full night’s sleep without being woken up by ghosts might be more helpful in that regard. The ghostly visits are actually quite creepy, with faces appearing woven into the imagery of the fireplace tiles, the bells in the house beginning to ring all at once, and Scrooge waiting wide-eyed and shaking for the next promised visit.

“…another idol has displaced me…a golden one”

It was apparent even in audio format that Dickens was paid by the word – he does tend to challenge Poe in terms of the epic run-on sentence, but I’ll admit that after a while I kind of forgot this. What I was expecting to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane turned out to be a very enjoyable book – if saccharine sweet in places, “God bless us, every one!” – with some very sad moments. Scrooge’s upbringing was one of neglect, his desire to escape a life of poverty and earn enough to sustain himself and his bride-to-be was one I’m sure many of us can relate to, especially around this time of year when everything seems so very expensive and it can be isolating to admit that you’re not overjoyed 100% of the festive season. What I enjoyed most is that this is less a story about Christmas and more about kindness. That these ghosts visit him at Christmas is neither here nor there, the holiday itself is a catalyst for the change he needs to see. Growing up, one side of my family is quite religious, so the Christian elements of Christmas are familiar to me even now. This book, however, veers away from religion into ‘just be nice to each other it isn’t that hard’. The lessons they teach him are that if you spend your whole life being awful to people, they will hate you, and you will be alone. It’s hard enough to get by in this world – ‘are there no workhouses? No prisons?’ – as it is, so don’t hate people for finding happiness somehow.

“He became as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man as the good old city knew”

So, what’s my take away from A Christmas Carol? It’s very sweet and nostalgic and hardly the most mentally challenging of books about good and bad, but I loved it. Christmas holds a special place in my heart. I love the tree, giving people I love gifts because they deserve them, I like walking the dog in the frost and sitting down to play games and eat food and celebrate with people I hold dear. I love carols and stollen, and watching the Muppets version of this very book, and cheesy black and white films. I used to be in a Chapel choir (despite not being able to sing that well) and Christmas was always my favourite time, belting out carols with my friends. Listening to this book in a cosy jumper with a mug of spiced apple tea I felt incredibly festive, and it was wonderful.

Overall rating: 📖📖📖📖📖 5 books out of 5

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