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The Cricket on the Hearth
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Short Story/Novella Collection > The Cricket on the Hearth - December 2018

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4826 comments Mod
Our December 2018 Short Story read is The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, 84 pages or less, published 1845


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 433 comments I'm in for this one and will start in about a week.


Lara Panfilov | 22 comments Here is my review of the book, I would love to hear your opinions and discuss different aspects of the book.

Oh what a heartwarming and endearing story. I was swept away by Bertha’s innocence, John’s goodness and Caleb’s protectiveness. Each character filled my heart with delight in a different way. The story itself focuses on love and especially on what happens when love between certain characters is seriously put to the test. The cricket plays a special role in the book as it resembles the deep and profound connection between John and Dot. I was most definitely charmed by Caleb and the perfect world he had created for his blind daughter Bertha, although I was happy that she found out the reality in the end and was able to “see” things more clearly. The scene that grasped me the most was John’s change of heart upon finding out that his wife had a secret lover (which turned out not to be the case). He so deeply loved his wife that instead of being filled with anger and resentment, he figured he was to blame and wished Dot nothing but happiness in her life. The book has a happy ending on all fronts as May ends up marrying her long lost lover Edward (Caleb’s son), instead of Mr. Tackleton and John & Dot show their eternal love for each other. However I find Mr. Tackleton’s transformation quite unjustifiable – somehow out of nowhere he changes his entire personality and becomes a kind and good hearted man.

I have to say that this story does remind me of A Christmas Carol in some aspects: the sweet and innocent Bertha can be compared with tiny Tim, Mr. Tackleton resembles Scrooges and in both stories there is some kind of higher power (the cricket in The cricket on the Hearth and the ghosts in A Christmas Carol) that helps the characters realize certain important things. However, I would say that the Cricket on the Hearth focuses more on love whereas A Christmas Carol really is all about the change of personality.

Overall a miraculous story with many great components, but I would still have to rank it below A Christmas Carol, because of the utterly unique and interesting plot that the latter is made of.


message 4: by SherryRose (new)

SherryRose | 257 comments It’s a free kindle book on amazon and there’s a free audiobook reading on YouTube and the rankin bass cartoon is also on YouTube. Free is fun lol


message 5: by MK (new) - rated it 4 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments Sherry wrote: "It’s a free kindle book on amazon and there’s a free audiobook reading on YouTube and the rankin bass cartoon is also on YouTube. Free is fun lol"

*thumbs up*

Might try to find the time for that next week. 'tis the season, after all :)


Valerie (nicehotcupoftea) | 39 comments I enjoyed this story, but not quite as much as A Christmas Carol. The attachment between John and Dot was lovely, and isn't it funny how the baby was just a prop! I agree that Mr Tackleton's transformation was a bit sudden, Scrooge's was more convincing.


message 7: by MK (new) - rated it 4 stars

MK (wisny) | 2993 comments I read this over the last few days. I almost started with The Chimes first, as it fits in, chronologically between A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth, but one of the reviews I read said Chimes was more of a New Year's story, so I thought I'd save it :).

I agree with Lara and Valerie about the suddenness of Tackleton's change of heart, Scrooge's was more convincing. Although, you never know, those cricket faeries might have done their business on him through the day, as they did on John through the night ;-).

The story was lovely, I enjoyed it.


Piyangie | 409 comments I read it at the end of last month. This is my second read of the book. I did like it though not much as I like A Christmas Carol .


Piyangie | 409 comments I too agree with all who have voiced here the sudden transformation of Mr. Tackleton. it is a little unconvincing. I think it may be because unlike in A Christmas Carol , here Dickens have focused more on the theme of love, faithfulness and domestic happiness.


John_Dishwasher John_Dishwasher (johndishwasher) | 185 comments I like this story and I think it's worth reading but Dickens does some crazy stuff with the narrator. The way it started out with the tea kettle and cuckoo clock seeming alive and everything, I thought maybe the narrator was the ice box, or like an ottoman across the room, a la Disney. This intrigued me at first, but then the narrator never identified himself! I read that whole book wondering who was telling me the story, who was so intimate with this family that he or she or it could witness all these things and relate them to me. Like maybe the Carrier's pocketwatch? I finally gave up. I decided Dickens just was never going to sew up that hole he opened in the first couple of pages. Then, in the very last paragraph of the work, he provides an answer. It made me chuckle, yeah. But, to be honest, it also felt a little like a cheap trick; and it made the whole piece seem kinda thrown together. If he wanted to pull that sort of thing, I think he could have done it much more effectively. On the other hand, he could also have left out all that kettle and clock stuff without hurting his story at all. For me it didn't really add anything but confusion.


message 11: by Lara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lara Panfilov | 22 comments JohnDishwasher wrote: "I like this story and I think it's worth reading but Dickens does some crazy stuff with the narrator. The way it started out with the tea kettle and cuckoo clock seeming alive and everything, I tho..."

What do you mean when you refer to "a cheap trick"? I agree that the kettle and the clock stuff adds no real value to the story and besides that I in general believe the cricket doesn't play a big role in the book, except for the part where he magically guides John to the right path.

Sometimes these side elements (the clock, kettle part) are needed to distract the reader a bit and in my opinion it was a smart opener and interesting introduction of the story.


John_Dishwasher John_Dishwasher (johndishwasher) | 185 comments Lara wrote: "What do you mean when you refer to "a cheap trick"? "

The reason I used the words "cheap trick" is because it's such strong imagery and very compelling in the beginning. You feel like this is going to be important to the story. But then it ends up being basically unnecessary. So it feels like he used it just to get our attention. To me, if that's all he's going to use it for, and it doesn't add anything, and it even confuses the reader some, it's a little cheap.

LIke you say, even the cricket is more or less superfluous except for that cool dreamy sequence where John is suffering his moments of turmoil. I actually started to think he added all these elements just to give the piece the feel of a fairy tale, when the story isn't really a fairy tale at all.

Dickens is a genius writer, but this is not one of his genius works. That he could have done this better is part of what irks me. It's like he was in a hurry, or something, or he added that stuff at the last minute because his publisher said it would sell better that way.

I liked it otherwise, though. Like I said before, it's worth reading. It both surprised me and satisfied me.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 433 comments I finished this one. I thought it was a bit sentimental and the plot was pretty simple. I'm onto A Christmas Carol now which seems to be superior in every way.


Milena | 257 comments RJ wrote: "I finished this one. I thought it was a bit sentimental and the plot was pretty simple. I'm onto A Christmas Carol now which seems to be superior in every way."

I also have just finished the story.
I agree with you about “A Christmas Carol”: I loved it.


message 15: by Milena (last edited Dec 19, 2018 01:42PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Milena | 257 comments Piyangie wrote: "here Dickens have focused more on the theme of love, faithfulness and domestic happiness."

I think another interesting theme that Dickens tackles here is deception:
Tackleton wants May to watch Dot and John, who are a happy couple, so she is deceived into believing that she may be happy with an old man; Caleb tells his daughter that they live in a lovely house, he deceives her for her own good, but his deception causes undesired effects; Mrs Fielding deceives her daughter, and says that an old man is, in an eligible point of view, a son-in-law to be desired, but she actually wants to become wealthy.


Piyangie | 409 comments Milena wrote: "I think another interesting theme that Dickens tackles here is deception: Tackleton wants May to watch Dot and John, who are a happy couple, so she is deceived into believing that she may be happy with an old man; Caleb tells his daughter that they live in a lovely house, he deceives her for her own good, but his deception causes undesired effects; Mrs Fielding deceives her daughter, and says that an old man is, in an eligible point of view, a son-in-law to be desired, but she actually wants to become wealthy. ..."

Fully agree with you, Milena. Thank you for bringing it to light.


Milena | 257 comments One thing that I liked was finding a little poem disguised as prose at the beginning of the story. I did a little web search, and found some poems written by Dickens. I only knew a couple of them.


John_Dishwasher John_Dishwasher (johndishwasher) | 185 comments Milena wrote: "One thing that I liked was finding a little poem disguised as prose at the beginning of the story. I did a little web search, and found some poems written by Dickens. I only knew a couple of them."

Where was the poem disguised as prose?


message 19: by Milena (last edited Dec 22, 2018 07:27AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Milena | 257 comments JohnDishwasher wrote: "Where was the poem disguised as prose?"

It’s rhyming poem/song at the beginning. I’ll try to write it down in verse. I hope Mr Dickens won’t laugh too much at me. Dot is waiting for her husband, the kettle is boiling and trolling a song of invitation:

It’s a dark night, and the rotten leaves are lying by the way;
and, above, all is mist and darkness, and, below, all is mire and clay;

and there’s only one relief in all the sad and murky air;
and I don’t know that it is one, for it’s nothing but a glare;

of deep and angry crimson, where the sun and wind together;
set a brand upon the clouds for being guilty of such weather;

and the widest open country is a long dull streak of black;
and there’s hoar-frost on the finger-post, and thaw upon the track;

and the ice it isn’t water, and the water isn’t free;
and you couldn’t say that anything is what it ought to be;

but he’s coming, coming, coming! .



RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 433 comments Milena wrote: "JohnDishwasher wrote: "Where was the poem disguised as prose?"

It’s rhyming poem/song at the beginning. I’ll try to write it down in verse. I hope Mr Dickens won’t laugh too much at me. Dot is wai..."


Wow. I completely missed that when I was reading it. Thanks for posting that!


John_Dishwasher John_Dishwasher (johndishwasher) | 185 comments Milena wrote: "It’s rhyming poem/song at the beginning. I’ll try to write it down in verse. I hope Mr Dickens won’t laugh too much at me. Dot is wai..."

Thanks for the versification. Looks like you got it just right. It's curious that he didn't put it into verse in the text, even after saying quite clearly at the beginning of the paragraph that it was a 'song'. I like this version better than the prose one.


message 22: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 76 comments I enjoyed this story, even if it was a bit heavy on sentiment. My favorite parts of the story were Dickens' descriptions of Tilly Slowboy. They were very funny, and I even laughed out loud once or twice-- not something I'm used to doing with Dickens! The story ended on a very melancholy note, though, and I still have no idea who the narrator was.


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments I enjoyed this story too.So beautiful and heartwarming.


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