Book of the Month

December: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ curmudgeonly old Ebenezer Scrooge has been helping us rediscover our Christmas Spirit for the last 175 years. And he doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

 

“Marley was dead, to begin with.”

Charles Dickens' Marley

A lonely man whose only love is money, Scrooge walks through life humbugging, keeping Christmas in his own way – or rather not at all – counting his coins, harrumphing at the world and slowly but surely, building and adding to the chains that will burden him in the afterlife. Chains of greed, of hatred towards his fellow man, of cruelty and ignorance and indifference.

You see, in Dickens’ story, embittered Ebenezer Scrooge, is to be greeted by three ghosts — Ghosts of the past, present and future. They will, in turn, show him, teach him and, perhaps, persuade him to change his hard, cold-hearted miserly ways and learn to embrace life, and his fellow man, with all his being; thereby erasing the chains that await him.

“Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”
“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”
“Leave me alone then,” said Scrooge.

Charles Dickens' Fred and Scrooge

Charles Dickens’ Victorian London set novella is a lamp-lit & snow-covered reminder of what Christmas is all about.

We are led by Dickens’ seamless, humour-full narration, his writing a veritable treat of whit and similes and metaphors (anything from Marley’s chains of greed and materialism to the fog of Scrooge’s unclear thoughts) that plunge us inevitably and instantly into Scrooge’s city, shrouded in a “piercing, searching, biting cold.”

Of course, Scrooge is, wonderfully undone. His own spirit is moved, his heart opened, his joy bountiful. Dickens’ prose is so exact, so perfect, one can’t help but get caught up in Scrooge’s redemption. We root for him, despite his misgivings, despite his downfalls. Dickens shows us, through the phantoms journeys with him, his reasonings; explanations and justifications as to why his heart was hardened in the first place: and we? We can’t help but empathise with him, our hearts moved to the very thing which we’ve been yearning for him to do. This cranky protagonist who, at the beginning of the story delivers one of the most horrible lines ever in any book —

“If they would rather die, “said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

— becomes our champion. The author gives us the thing we so desperately wanted to happen.

In the end, we see a redeemed man. Dickens throws around words such as “earnestness” and “good” and we welcome them. He is loving, he is emphatic, taking care of his fellow man, of the Cratchett’s, Tiny Tim, his nephew and family.

“His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”

Anyone else well up??

Fred and scrooge charles dickens

Why is it Still Relevant?

This story has endured; these characters have been revisited and revitalised, time and time again. And we never get bored of them, do we?

Perhaps it’s because the themes are still so relatable.

Did you know that Charles Dickens pretty much invented the “White Christmas”? Did you know that at the time “A Christmas Carol” was published, medieval Christmas traditions were in a dwindling decline and Dickens’ story renewed Christmas spirit, got people celebrating and practicing goodwill to all men and that many of the things we see as the “norm” at Christmas-time were started within this story?

Perhaps its because it brings something up within ourselves.

Scrooge makes us make difficult decisions. We see moral, life lessons play out. It transcends languages and time and it gives us a platform, an inspiration and motivation with which we can use to look within ourselves. And also look without — at the problems in the world, at the poor and needy. Dickens and Scrooge teach us to pay more attention, to empathise and to love our fellow man.

Which is my favourite Spirit?

As many would probably say when asked, my favourite spirit was always the Ghost of Christmas Present — this is, of course because of the giant, hairy, Hagrid-like apparition from A Muppets Christmas Carol that we all grew up loving.

“In easy state upon this couch there sat a jolly giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch[…]and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge.”

Charles Dickens Ghost of Christmas Present

I like to think that, having grown older, the fact that he is still my favourite spirit is less to do with The Muppets and more to do with Scrooge himself, at that moment within the story. That Charles Dickens writes it so Ebenezer is finally being able to see, unreserved and unrestricted, as we, the reader do, the realities of what is going on around him. He truly see his only remaining family member as such.  He sees what trials and struggles those around him are facing. And he empathises.

But who am I kidding? That ghost got one of the best songs in the movie and he sounded like Santa Claus. He was just so damn happy. I love him.

Plus, compared to the other two — the creepy flickering candle (“It was a strange figure — like a child; yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which have him the appearance…of being diminished to a child’s proportions.”) and, you know, DEATH (“a solemn phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.”,) he’s the only one you can say is awesome and maintain your societal decorum of normalcy.

charles dickens muppets

“The spirits eyes were clear and kind.”

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Do you have a copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?? There’s a link at the bottom of my last book review here – go ahead and get it! Get prepared for next Christmas (hey, it’s only 348 day til then! ;))

Below are the links to our next two books (for January and February)!  These are affiliate links which means there is no further cost to you but it helps keep my little blog afloat! Each link should give you the option for Kindle or paper editions!

January: “Goodnight Mister Tom” by Michelle Magorian

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February: “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman

 

a christmas carol book review

Check out what we’re reading right now by heading to the book of the month page!

24 Comments

  1. Such a classic favorite and one of the staples that we have for Christmas. Aside from watching the movie, the book is such a lovely read during this season. It’s a good reminder that giving is one of the things we should celebrate as well. We always have a copy of that at home.

    Reply
  2. This is such a cute post! A few years ago, I got to see A Christmas Carol onstage at one of the Dallas theaters that does it every year. It was so amazing to see the story that I knew come to life before my eyes!

    Reply
  3. One of my favorite Christmas movies/stories. I know I watch the classic movie every year. I have never read the book. Perhaps I will add to my reading list for the next holiday season. It really does symbolize the holiday spirit (both good and bad).

    Reply
  4. Jeanine Macintosh

    What a classic! I have read this with my mother, my grandparents and am now starting to read it to my kids during the christmas season. Great insight!

    Reply
  5. Michelle Garrett

    I absolutely love this book and the different adaptations that have been of it over the years. I so agree – the transformation of Scrooge totally embodies the Christmas spirit.

    Reply
  6. A Christmas Carol is classic Christmas story that has always scared me i’m not really a fan. There are valuable lessons to learn in it though. Thanks for am insightful article.

    Reply

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