I haven’t read any of Dickens’ shorter works before and I thought this was a good time to try reading one of them. I got inspired by some of my friends’ suggestions and decided to read ‘A Christmas Carol’. I read it in one sitting today. Here is the review.
Summary of the story
I am giving below a summary of the story as given in the back cover.
Scrooge is a mean old man with no friends or family to love him – he’s just so miserable and bitter! One freezing cold Christmas Eve, Marley’s Ghost pays Scrooge a visit and an eerie night-time journey begins. The Christmas spirits are here to show Scrooge the error of his nasty ways. By visiting his past, present and future, will Scrooge learn to love Christmas and the others around him?
What I think
I had seen a movie version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ before called ‘Scrooged’ and it was nice to read the story in the original. I liked it very much. I first came across the name of Scrooge in Disney comics, which I used to read when I was in school, in which Uncle Scrooge is a famous character, who is rich and miserly, and who is also the uncle of Donald Duck. It was interesting to discover that Uncle Scrooge was based on the main character of ‘A Christmas Carol’. The book also made me remember some of the real-world Scrooges whom I have met – who kept their money in the bank and didn’t like spending a penny, who didn’t know how to enjoy life and refused to let others enjoy their lives. But, when we read the book, we sympathize with Scrooge. The story also made me remember a quote from a movie I saw sometime back called ‘The Peaceful Warrior’ in which one of the lead characters says : “The ones that are hardest to love are the ones that need it the most.” It was also interesting to know from the book that Charles Dickens made the phrase, ‘dead as a doornail’‘, popular, through this book. (It is also the title of one of Charlaine Harris’ vampire novels in the Sookie Stackhouse series).
In his introduction to this book, Anthony Horowitz, who writes children books, says this about Dickens, which I found quite interesting :
I didn’t always love Charles Dickens. The first book of his that I read – it was Hard Times – landed on my desk with a dull thud and a small cloud of dust when I was at school, aged about sixteen, and I’m afraid I found it very heavy-going. The industrial setting was grim and depressing. The author seemed to use an awful lot of words to tell his story, and quite a lot of those words had far too many syllables for my liking. There were too many pages. It all felt too much like hard work.
That’s the trouble with Dickens. People think of him as a ‘great’ writer, which can be a little off-putting. He has a nasty habit of turning up in English Literature exams…definitely not an enjoyable experience. And the honest truth is that if you read him too early, you can be turned off him for life – which is a great pity.
Because what is really great about Dickens is that he was a wonderful storyteller with ghosts, murderers, lunatics, lovers, revolting villains, dashing heroes, eccentric aunts and lovable rogues across the pages. He created a huge cast of unforgettable characters, many of whom are still famous all over the world.
I am giving below some of my favourite lines from the book.
And yet I should have clearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips; to have questioned her, that she might have opened them; to have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush; to have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price: in short, I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet been man enough to know its value.
It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.
I enjoyed reading ‘A Christmas Carol’. As Horowitz says in his introduction : “it’s a perfect book to dip into, to get a first taste of Dickens. It’s short. It’s easy to read. And although you may think you know the story, it may still surprise you.”
If you haven’t read Dickens before and would like to start with one of his smaller works, this well-loved beautiful story is a good place to start.
You can also read a review of this book by fellow book-blogger Kelly here.