Jim's Reviews > A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens
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's review
Jun 06, 09

Read in December, 2008

Not the most subtle fable, nor one with the greatest depth of character, but I still found it wonderfully evocative and even heart-warming. Dickens does a beautiful job of rendering a variety of Christmas-related sentiments and experiences, from the sheer joy and revelry of Fezziwig's ball and the happy throngs on the city streets to the family intimacy of the Cratchits and the touching, minimalist celebrations of the lighthouse keepers and the sailors.

The plot and character development move ahead with great rapidity (Scrooge has more opportunities to act anti-Christmasly in one hour on Christmas Eve than you or I have had in a lifetime; meanwhile, he pretty much has learned his lesson by the end of the visit by the Ghost of Christmas Past.) Dickens is well known for comically exaggerated characters, and I think this is usually one of his great strengths, but the presentation of Scrooge and his redemption is a rather extreme example of this tendency. Still, given the short, fairy-tale character of the story, it's easy to suspend one's psychological disbelief and to let the Christmas spirit surge.

I think the story rewards reading even if you think you know it by heart. As I say, the setting of the Christmas scenes is a pleasure in its own right; but there are a lot of little moments that felt new to me (particularly those involving Scrooge's nephew, an exceedingly--but I thought, believably--pleasant fellow). Definitely something to consider reading in the run-up to Christmas to get yourself properly motivated.
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