For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. But when his newest book is an utter flop, his publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, he accepts, but with relatives hounding him for loans, his wife planning an excessively lavish holiday party, and jealous critics moving in for the kill, he is hardly feeling the Christmas spirit.
Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace and inspiration in London itself, his great palace of thinking. And on one of his long walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets a young woman who might be just the muse he needs. Over the next few weeks, Eleanor Lovejoy propels Dickens on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition—and Christmas.
Laced with humor, rich historical detail from Dickens’ life, and clever winks to his work, Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is an irresistible new take on an adored classic.
I found myself drawn into the story with a feeling reminiscent of those cold, wintry nights when I would pull out my battered copy of The Christmas Carol in order to become enthralled once again with this timeless classic. Somehow Silva captured some of the Dickens magic by making you feel as if she’s sitting in front of you telling a story just for you alone; from one friend to another. She knows what you need to hear, how the characters should sound and act, what the settings should look and feel like to capture your attention and suddenly bring this world to life before your eyes.
It is as if we’re getting a peek into a sacred secret, the birth of how The Christmas Carol came to be, so it is no surprise the story literally opens with the birth of Dickens’ child foreshadowing another yet to come. By the end you feel as if you know the ‘boy who loved Christmas, with all his heart’ just as well as you know yourself. You feel committed to his story just as if your own sweat, blood and tears had poured from the quill onto the page.
My little Christmas tradition of reading the story that begins with Jacob Marley being dead as a door nail will take on new life after this; feel more special and intimate in some ways thanks to Silva. Particularly towards the end as she begins to incorporate pieces of A Christmas Carol into Dickens thoughts and actions you can’t help but feel your own level of excitement grow with each passing sentence.
When you get to that surprising little twist towards the end I dare you to not shed a tear at the beauty of the moment and allow yourself to be carried away as Dickens reads his tale to fulfill a promise of a Christmas gift.
I would highly encourage you to seek this book out and add it to your holiday list of things to do so you will hopefully find the same sense of wonder and charm that I did. With her vivacious characters, easy to follow plot, steady pace and adorable story it’s hard not to fall in a little bit in love with Dickens all over again.
Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for allowing me to review this!
Find at Amazon: