A Very Dickens Christmas Read-Along discussion

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The Christmas Stories > Cricket on the Hearth

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message 1: by Kimberly (last edited Nov 30, 2014 06:37PM) (new)

Kimberly | 4 comments I really enjoyed this story!

I especially loved the rich description of the kettle and the cricket at the beginning of the story. It is amazing how much personification and detail Dickens is able to bring to two such commonplace objects.

I really liked the characters of Caleb and his daughter. He was very sweet with her, and she had such an innocent and optimistic outlook on the world.

I thought the descriptions of Tilly's clumsiness were funny, but that poor baby! It seems its head has bumped into everything! ("The Baby’s head was, as it were, a test and touchstone for every description of matter,—animal, vegetable, and mineral. Nothing was in use that day that didn’t come, at some time or other, into close acquaintance with it.")

I despised the Scrooge-like character Mr. Tackleton for most of the book. I kind of ended up forgiving him in the end, but I found his transformation to be much less convincing than that of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

I was shocked by the twist at the end of Chirp the 2nd, as it seemed quite a drastic shift in tone from the previous part of the story. And although I did suspect that things were not quite as they appeared in the twist, I was surprised by the way things ended up at the end of the story. It was a pleasant, happy ending though.

But what is up with the last paragraph?!

"But what is this! Even as I listen to them, blithely, and turn towards Dot, for one last glimpse of a little figure very pleasant to me, she and the rest have vanished into air, and I am left alone. A Cricket sings upon the Hearth; a broken child’s-toy lies upon the ground; and nothing else remains."

^Someone please explain this to me. Did it happen in the past? I am confused by this paragraph, tacked on after what seemed to be the ending.


The Rudie Librarian (Brian) (therudielibrarian) Tackleton might me one of my least favorite characters ever. Well-written, I just really want to punch him in the face. I'm not normally like that, but gosh he's horrible.


message 3: by Jana (new)

Jana (penguininabluebox) I really, really liked the story, even though out of the ones we read up until this point, it spread the least of Christmas spirit for me. I found the characters to be great though, and the descriptions were great as always.


The Rudie Librarian (Brian) (therudielibrarian) Okay, loved, loved, loved it! So beautiful.


message 5: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (marathonsun) | 11 comments I agree that this was the least "Christmasy" of the stories. I loved the plot, I'm a real twist lover. Much different from the others so far.

Kimberly's question about the last paragraph brought to light the fact that my Kindle version didn't end the same as the printed copy. Now I am also curious about it.

The relationship between Caleb and his daughter was so sweet and heart wrenching.


message 6: by Emily (new)

Emily I definitely liked this more than The Haunted Man. I love how quirky all of his characters are.
It takes place at the end of January, the closest thing that was Christmasy was the toymaker.
Fun little short story! Can't wait for next weeks!


message 7: by Titta (new)

Titta (throughbookshelves) | 4 comments This was definitely my favorite from the three we have read so far. Even though it wasn't really Christmasy, it still had this holiday feeling for me. I didn't hate Tackleton, I felt more sadness to him because he was surrounded by these loving people and he couldn't find love to anyone till the end and then it felt too sudden and unexplained.

My favorite character definitely was the Carrier. It was so much fun to read about him and see how he really loved Dot. Can't wait to read the rest of the stories!


message 8: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (marathonsun) | 11 comments Kimberly wrote: "I really enjoyed this story!

I found a theory about the end of the story in "Social Dreaming: Dickens and the Fairy Tale" as a Google online book, last half of page 101, if your interested.



message 9: by Mpauli (new)

Mpauli I enjoyed the story a lot as well. The relationship between Caleb and his daughter stood out for me and I also was sure that Dot's betrayel was not what it seemed to be.


message 10: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly | 4 comments Thanks, Sherri! I will definitely check that out. :)


message 11: by Sophie (new)

Sophie This is my favourite of the 3 stories we've read so far. I really enjoyed the characters even Tackleton! The last few lines confused me so much though.
@message 9 (Sherri) Thanks for that, their theory makes sense.

The other thing that confused me was this. Why was Dot so sad when she realised John knew about her (supposed) betrayal. She didn't really betray him so why didn't she just tell him that?


Kailey (Luminous Libro) (luminouslibro) Sophie wrote: "Why was Dot so sad when she realised John knew about her (supposed) betrayal. She didn't really betray him so why didn't she just tell him that? ..."
I think she was sad to think that John would ever doubt her integrity at all. Often those people with a high sense of integrity are the last to defend themselves against accusations. Also, she had to keep sea-faring Edward's secret until he could swoop in and get married.


Kailey (Luminous Libro) (luminouslibro) This is my favorite of Dicken's Christmas stories so far! Not nearly as long-winded as he is apt to be, hilariously funny and witty, and very dramatic and surprising in the twists!
I loved seeing Dot and John so happy together. Tilly made me laugh my head off; she's so clumsy and ridiculous. The dear blind Bertha with her misconceptions of the world and her poor father are a sad and sweet couple of characters. I loved their story-line! And I liked how it is all tied together by the Cricket's magic of hearth and home.
Just a delightful little story, but as others have commented, I missed the Christmasy aspect.

I did not like the last line where Dicken's basically says it was all a dream or something. Why ruin a great story like that?

Also I didn't like that Tackleton has a sudden change of heart at the end. That is totally unbelievable in his character. Far more likely that he really WOULD poison the cake, or at least make everyone miserable as much as he could. He was just jilted at the altar! You think he's in a generous, forgiving mood?!? Stupid ending.


Tanya (aka ListObsessedReader) (listobsessed) | 5 comments I'm slowly catching up! I definitely enjoyed this one much more than The Haunted Man, although as with others I'm confused as to why this is classed as a Christmas story. I also read the kindle edition so I don't have the ending mentioned... Mine ended with dancing and then the cricket and the kettle again.
While the happily ever after is quite neat it does make for a sweet storyline, which I enjoyed. I do wonder, what next for Bertha?


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