Growing up, I was a massive fan of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I have not only read the book multiple times, often around Christmas, but I’ve seen at least a dozen of the many adaptations of the book (some far better than others). So when I stumbled upon this book, which purported to tell the story from Jacob Marley’s perspective, Scrooge’s partner who is the ghost who visits him first in the original classic, I knew I had to read it.
Unfortunately, I went into this expecting a light fun book, but this book is so…horrible.
Release: Oct. 2019
Synopsis: A reimagining of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, telling the story of Jacob Marley and Ebeneezer Scrooge, from their youth to Marley’s death, showing the story in all new ways.
Where do I start with this horrible excuse for a retelling? When it comes to retellings, authors generally go two routes: stay true to the source material while adding more depth to the story, or use the original as inspiration and then promptly ignore it for the majority of the book. This book, unfortunately, felt like the latter. Major things were ignored from the original text, changing not only the characters but entire point of Dicken’s story to begin with. Clinch throws in things from the slave trade and prostitutes. It was all very strange and modern-feeling, not examining issues from the views of the era. The only redeeming quality in this book is the language, as the descriptions are often beautiful and visual.
Let me talk briefly about the big issues I noticed were changed, like Scrooge’s sister dying way later in this book. In the original, her death was one of the main prompts for him to become a miser and pull back from the world. It is demonstrated he was not always a horrible person, but became so because of the harshness of the world. However, in this book he is presented as a horrible person just in general his entire life. It makes no sense why Belle would fall in love with him in the first place in this rendition.
Marley and Scrooge’s business is entirely changed as well. In the original, they were money lenders. This was a massive part of the classic, but in this book their money is achieved through greed, the slave trade, and underhanded dealings. While both might make for interesting conflict, it changes the story to be entire unrecognizable.
But the worst additive by far is the romance between Scrooge’s sister Fan and Marley. Like Marley literally spurns her so she marries someone else, and then a few years later kills her husband. They then engage in an affair…yes, I’m not even joking. Fan, the ideal kind-hearted good thing in Scrooge’s early life has an affair when she has a small son right after her husband dies. It makes no sense!
Now, outside my issues with it as a retelling, it just wasn’t that interesting of book. The descriptions were flowery and beautiful, but the plot was slow and most of the characters were one-dimensional and dull. Even if this book had no association with Dickens’s classic, I still would have not liked it.
I am aware that I’m being rather harsh on this book. I know, but I guess I am generally harsher on retellings because of their associations with the original.
Have you read this book or heard of it? Does it look interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventures,