I hope you are experiencing nice spring weather at your house. We are loving the warm weather around here. Today I am excited to share a review of a book that may seem out of place for this time of year. In my defense, I put it on hold before Christmas, read it in January, and finally am reviewing it now. So yes, a novel about one of the most famous Christmas stories of all time is a bit out of place for early April. But please indulge me.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva is an historical fiction novel chronicling Charles Dickens’ experiences writing A Christmas Carol. I was very intrigued by this focus and excited to read this novel. But it left me feeling disappointed in the end.
- If you haven’t read A Christmas Carol, read it now! Whether you are a Dickens fan or not. Whether you like Christmas stories or not. Whether you like classics or not. Just read it. It’s such a beautiful and engaging story. Every time I read it, I am reminded why it is the epitome of a Christmas classic.
- I’m getting a bit distracted thinking about favorite Christmas Carol adaptations and spin offs. Perhaps a list worth sharing one day!
According to Goodreads, “Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept …“
It took me a long time to get into the story. In fact, it was very slow going for most of the book. I felt like the whole book was building towards something that never quite came together. The writing had some lovely passages. The descriptions of London were engaging. But it lacked cohesion and didn’t come together for me in the end. I wanted more of the actual physical writing of A Christmas Carol instead of so much build up and angst about the process. I had hoped for more discussion of the characters and how he came to the ideas in the story rather than so much about his muse. It just didn’t interest me as much as I had hoped.
Dickens is mostly just self centered and obsessive in this book. I have limited knowledge of what Dickens was actually like. I have read that he was certainly eccentric and not always the best husband and father. But I think this book just took it too far. He was nearly irredeemable for me. I understand we are going on a Scrooge-like journey, but he was just not likable for most of the book. I spent a lot of time worried he was going to have an affair and I felt bad for his wife and kids. I have read that Dickens was not always good to his family and even separated from his wife later in life. But I guess I hoped for a more positive picture. Instead, we get a man desperate for a story and obsessed with a woman that isn’t his wife. Because he was described so extreme, I didn’t enjoy reading the process of his writing A Christmas Carol. It didn’t feel authentic but rather angsty. I was glad he reconciled with his family in the end. But it felt a little bit “too little too late.”
Overall, I had high hopes for this novel. I love A Christmas Carol and hoped it would be a fun “historical” version of that tale. But it was too slow and left me feeling out of sorts. The big twist was clever and certainly surprising. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. But it left the whole story feeling a bit freaky and not as endearing as I had hoped. Perhaps this just proves how unique A Christmas Carol really is. Dickens combines a ghost story with a tale of redemption and a celebration of Christmas. It truly deserves the praise and fame that it still enjoys today.
As for Mr. Dickens and His Carol, I appreciated the story it sought to tell. I enjoy novels that humanize famous people from history. So it was fun to read something that got us in the head of Charles Dickens. However, the novel fell short for me. I would have liked more focus on writing the story and less on his muse.
What novels have you enjoyed with famous main characters?
Any Christmas Carol fans out there? Favorite adaptations or spin offs