As the holidays approached I knew I wanted to re-read A Christmas Carol, but I was also on the lookout for holiday historical fiction novels. So, when I read about Samantha Silva’s 2017 holiday debut, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, I knew I had to add it to my library. As a life-long Dickens fan, I felt equally apprehensive and excited about this book journey. Luckily, it was a trip worth taking.
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Publishers, family, friends, beggars, street urchins, and even a magistrate…everyone wants something from Charley Dickens. Easily the most famous author in Britain, he and his purse is the target of many financial schemes, charities, and forgeries. And, suddenly, his popularity seems to have waned just in time for Christmas, when money is most in demand.
His wife, Catherine, has just given birth to their sixth child, but childbirth hasn’t distracted her from the annual Dickens Christmas party. And the children are expecting their annual trip to the toy shop where he’s sure to be approached about various charities he’s supported in the past. The expense feels out of control, leaving Charley feeling anxious and distracted.
Now his publishers are demanding that he write a Christmas book in a mere two weeks! With his back against the wall, Mr. Dickens’ quill has stilled, and the spirit of Christmas is a mere ghost. It’s no surprise that he accepts an invitation to tea from his old love and muse. But when Catherine finds out Charley’s unable to justify his misjudgment. So, off she and the children go to Scotland…right before Christmas.
Alone, lonely, and uninspired, Charley feels more lost than ever. How will he ever find the inspiration to write this book? On one of his midnight walks he finds himself haunting the neighborhood he first lived as a bachelor. Luckily, he finds his old rooms are available to let, complete with his old writing desk. If for no other reason, his need for money may be enough to inspire, but what he needs is a new muse.
Then, as if from nowhere, the lovely Eleanor appears, cloaked in mystery and purple velvet. Can she help him rediscover his sense of joy and inspire something joyful for his new book? But each twist in the tale of his Christmas tale leaves him more bitter and disgruntled. And his new character, Ebenezer Scrooge, seems more reality than fiction, never more so than when his manuscript is stolen!
By chance, Charley encounters a street boy who’s destined to change the course of his life. The sudden joy he feels at his ability to feel inspires him to create a new Christmas tale that will forever cement him in the hearts and minds of readers young and old.
My Thoughts on Mr Dickens and His Carol
As with a Dickens novel, the elements of humor, mystery, injustice, and morality are key. I found myself chuckling aloud several times while reading this book. I was thrilled to find that the author was able to capture the wit and charm that I love about reading Dickens. She brings him to life in a way that feels authentic.
I also appreciated the author creating a world for Dickens that mirrored his novels. Social injustice, classism, and poverty are present in all his work, which, as a social worker, interests me greatly. Charley’s connection to the poorer London, whether historic or current, makes him feel like the Dickens you expect.
I’m in awe of Silva’s ability to transport the reader into Victorian London and the life and times of Charles Dickens. It’s clear this novel was a labor of love for someone who truly loves Dickens. That this is her debut novel is incredible! I felt completely engrossed by her characters and their trials and tribulations.
My Rating for Mr Dickens and His Carol
All in all, Mr Dickens and His Carol is a wonderful accompaniment to the classic, A Christmas Carol! I can’t imagine a better way to immerse oneself into the mind and heart of Charles Dickens, one of my all-time favorite writers. This book was exactly what I hoped it would be, and, in my opinion, any fan of Dickens should read it! For those who’ve not yet read any Dickens novels, I would highly suggest reading A Christmas Carol before taking this adventure.
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don’t miss these other great holiday novels