Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ~ three star review at Compulsively Quirky

When I started looking for a book set during Christmas, I was not overly impressed with my findings. Many modern novels set at Christmas have these ridiculously convoluted romantic plot lines that don’t appeal to me. 

And then I realized that I wasn’t actually sure if I’d ever read A Christmas Carol. I’ve seen various adaptations of the story for stage and screen, but when I was in middle and high school, did I actually read the real Charles Dickens version? I had no idea. There are so many YA versions of the the classics and Scholastic always does nice adaptations, but had I ever really read this Christmas favorite as Dickens wrote it?

Back in 2012, Audible gave free copies of A Christmas Carol read by Tim Curry to all of its members. Thank you Audible. While it took me three years to get around to listening to your gift, that does not diminish my appreciation.

And Tim Curry’s spoken word performance immersed me in Victorian England beautifully. As someone who holds no strong feelings for Tim Curry as an actor, I definitely appreciated the nuances he created in voicing not just Scrooge, but the various ghosts as well.

The story? Meh.

Generally, I like redemption stories. But this one is too heavy-handed for me. The theme too simplistic. Even modern versions of this story like How the Grinch Stole Christmas do nothing for me.

I am not a fan of sentimental morality. The Cratchits are poor, but they have each other. Awww. Puke! Being poor is not noble; it’s a struggle. No one wants that struggle, so sure, people make the best out of what meager circumstances they have.

But what they need is money. Not gazillions of dollars, but something to pay for Tiny Tim’s medical costs. How about a fair wage?

Enter Scrooge, whose transformation from miserly curmudgeon to philanthropic do-gooder is just not to be believed. No amount of religious subtext could change a character as mean-spirited and self-serving as Scrooge. 

I understand that Dickens was also appalled by poverty in Victorian England, but this solution doesn’t sit well with me. Dickens’ implication that humanity is best served by people voluntarily caring for each other just frightens me, mainly because it seems so idealistically unreal. Maybe that level of social responsibility was possible back in the day, but I see no hope in our future for such transformation.

I did learn a new word. Dickens calls his chapters staves. I’d never heard that term before, so I looked it up. A stave is a verse or stanza in a song or poem. And this story is a carol.

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