Book review: ‘Mr. Dickens and His Carol’ by Samantha Silva

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

“Mr. Dickens and His Carol” is a work of fiction. That must be understood to appreciate this review. The story does contain “rich historical detail from Charles Dickens’ life.” I’ll leave it to you to do the research necessary to determine what “rich historical detail ….”

Dickens was known for his largesse. He was constantly approached to support orphans, the poor and several his relatives. Besides that, his wife lived in a style that required money. The generous lifestyle suited the successful author well. He was recognized wherever he went, and he enjoyed the notoriety. But lately another author was intruding. William Makepeace Thackery had begun making a name for himself. As if that wasn’t enough, Dicken’s latest installments of “Martin Chuzzlewit” weren’t selling.

Suddenly money was not so plentiful. Dickens began to resent the demands upon him; in fact, it didn’t look like he could meet them. This was especially troubling when he couldn’t make his wife understand that they would have to limit the children’s lavish Christmas. And that they were not in a position to hold the usual large Christmas party.

His agent explained that there was a way out: His publisher wanted a Christmas book. It would have to be written quickly so that it could be printed in time for Christmas sales, a task that seemed impossible to Dickens, as he didn’t have the foggiest idea of a subject.

Dicken’s wife became so upset with his penny-pinching ways that she took the children and went to her parents.

With no reason to stay in his now lonely house, he went back to the hotel where he’d lived when his work first found success. But without ideas, the writer’s block remained, and with each passing day, the chance of completing a successful Christmas book lessoned. Whenever Charles Dickens was attempting to reconstruct his situation, he took a long night walk in some areas of London. On one of those walks, he had occasion to accompany a young woman to her door as she left the theater. There seemed to be a mutual attraction. It turned out that she was a devoted reader of his writing; it had special meaning to her, and therefore he did too. She also had a son, Tim, who currently had a leg injury that caused him to have to use a crutch. Dickens made no secret of the fact that he had a wife and family. In fact, he emphasized how much he missed them.

But he was lonely, and it looked as though his wife might never come back. So he used every occasion to get to know the young woman, Elenore Lovejoy, and her son. In fact, he began to believe that she was his muse. He enthusiastically began to write, drawing on the experiences gained in his past and present. Tiny Tim came into the story, as did his penny-pinching ways and many of the people around him, along with the name, Scrooge. We know that the “Christmas Carol” got written, but did his wife and family return? What becomes of the Elenore Lovejoy and Tiny Tim?

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