Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Novella, Parable, Fantasy
Now that the Christmas season is almost upon us, I decided to get myself into the Christmas spirit by reading probably the most famous festive story after the Nativity, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
For those who have never read the novel or seen any of the numerous film adaptions – the story begins on Christmas Eve where we meet the character Ebeneezer Scrooge who is still working away on his business, called Scrooge and Marley, by himself after his partner, Jacob Marley, passed away some years ago. Scrooge is to all intents and purposes, a miserable old git – even turning down the offer of making a donation to charity with the mere comment that the workhouses are there to help people in need and he dismisses the thought of spending Christmas with his nephew with the now iconic “Bah, Humbug!”
After he closes his business, Scrooge heads home where he gets the shock of his life through a ghostly encounter with Marley, who forewarns him that he will soon meet three spirits who aim to change his outlook on Christmas and his life over the night. At first Scrooge is skeptical and goes to sleep but at one in the morning, as Marley forewarned, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears to remind Scrooge of Christmases he once experienced in years gone by. back when he enjoyed Christmas.
Next, Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Present who takes him around Victorian London so he can see what Christmas is like for people in the city, including his clerk’s family where Scrooge is saddened to learn of his employee’s son, Tiny Tim, who cannot walk but still has a vibrant outlook on life.
The last spirit however, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, provides Scrooge with a window to an horrific future Christmas unless he changes his ways. Will the spirits do enough to make Scrooge change his mind?
In comparison to other books I have reviewed, it is a bit trickier for me to actually review this one, given that the story has now become a quintessential Christmas classic.
Firstly, the book is extremely short, with only 120 pages but is still a wonderful Christmas story. Scrooge is plainly a miser and I liked how in the novel he has a much colder and darker side to his persona than he has on movie adaptions, which makes the overall plot feel more believable as Scrooge experiences each successive spirit and begins to question his outlook on life.
Also, it can be seen Dickens was trying to make a social comment on the world he was living in which is made very strongly, despite A Christmas Carol being one of his shorter stories, where poorer people had to suffer in the unpleasant workhouses whilst those who were rich often did nothing about it, no matter how wrong it was (a problem which arguably is still an issue today).
It is obvious this is one of Dickens’ most inventive and imaginative stories from a plot perspective compared to his more gritty, realistic plots in his longer novels but it works to create a magical fairytale as Scrooge encounters each spirit. My particular favorite is probable the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come because the book here is at it’s darkest and had the biggest impact on me personally as a reader.
Probably, my only issue with the book is probably not to do with the book itself but more to do with the huge amount of adaptions for it, on the cinema screen in particular. Also, the fact the book has become a Christmas classic means most people who read it know already what will happen in the novel before even getting to the end. However, it is still great to go back to Dickens’ original work and access the story from the original storyteller’s eyes.
Overall, the book is still a Christmas classic – even if you have seen one of the many movie adaptions don’t be afraid to give the original version a go as it is still really enjoyable today.