Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens vs. Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
By leahmsilverman on December 20, 2012
Let’s start with:
This wasn’t my first reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but it’d been so long it could’ve been. Mind you, I hadn’t forgotten much of it. I was some version of the movie every year around Christmas (sometimes several versions, sometimes several times). My favorite is this one with Patrick Stewart. No one does Scrooge as well as Patrick Stewart. (Someday, remind me to tell you about the time I saw Stewart do a one man show of A Christmas Carol on Broadway… on Christmas Eve. It was the best Christmas ever.) But I digress. About the book: I love this story of redemption. I love its focus on caring for our fellow mankind. I love the Christmas message, and the message that really should last year round. Indeed, my favorite quote:
I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!
This is probably Dickens’s shortest book, and it’s a pretty simple, quick read. But the message is profound and well worth a lot of pondering.
I give it:
And now for the novel retold!
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett is a retelling of A Christmas Carol, but the story is about life, death, and afterlife of Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley. It begins with stories of Jacob’s childhood, and how he grew to be the cold, hard man that he was when he died. It tells about the regret he has in the way he shaped Scrooge’s life, and how he wishes to help Scrooge change his ways before it is too late. From this book we learn why the spirits chose to come to Scrooge when they did, how Jacob came to possess the knocker, and then appear before Scrooge rattling his chains. This is also a story of redemption, but it is both Scrooge’s and Marley’s redemption that we learn about. The way this story is crafted, makes you forget that Dickens had no say in it. It really is pretty wonderful.
If I have any complaints, it is that one of my favorite things in A Christmas Carol is the sorrow that Scrooge feels, and watching his heart change. In this novel, Scrooge’s feelings of remorse are downplayed, and made to seem more shallow. Given my affinity for the original Scrooge (and I do love him dearly), I didn’t really care for the character interpretation that seemed a bit off to me.
Despite that little irritation, this was a great read. A perfect Christmas time book. I’d highly recommend reading the two books together for a Christmas treat!
I give it:
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