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Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
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Jacob T. Marley

by R. William Bennett

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Jacob T. Marley - Bennett
Audio performance by Simon Vance
3 stars

This was an interesting concept for a spin-off. Instead of looking into the further lives of the story’s well known characters, this book explores, Jacob Marley, the character who is famously dead at the beginning of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. But, this isn’t really a prequel because for most of this book, Jacob is still dead, dead as that proverbial doornail. Apparently, there is redemption after death. This book is heavy on the details of how Jacob Marley is redeemed.
There were a few points where I thought the author was truly clever in the way he connected Scrooge and Marley as business partners. However, there wasn’t much else that was new, since the rest of the story simply follows Ebenezer on his spectral journey through Christmases past, present, and future. As Scrooge is the unseen observer of those heartwarming and heart wrenching vignettes, so is Jacob the unseen observer of Scrooge. The publisher’s blurb places this retelling with Maguire’s Wicked as an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. But, this book doesn’t begin to have that much originality. Huge chunks of the story are simply lifted from the original. When Jacob’ story does embark on something new, Bennett manages to hit the correct moral tone of the classic, but he completely misses the humor. I’m a big fan of the original Carol and listening to Simon Vance is always a pleasure. That saved the book for me. ( )
  msjudy | Dec 30, 2017 |
I had a tough time deciding what rating to give Jacob T. Marley. The first part of the book I struggled to read it. The fonts are small, the language and story was on the educated side. I did not like these characters and what they did. Then when Marley is dying and after his death I felt for him. I started to like him. I enjoyed the book so much more. I felt connected to him. Lets face it these characters were not supposed to be likeable at first. There had to be a change in them. With their changes I started to change how I related to them. I was thinking how much do I do or not do.

This is a drama, a Christmas story, a love story or unlove story. We all make choices daily in our lives. What choices are we making today, yesterday or tomorrow?

It has been many years since I have read A Christmas Carol. This takes that story and focus on Jacob T. Marley's ghost. What choices he made to lead him to wear chains and visits all those he did wrong in life. We see where he came from. What the T in his name represents. How he came to care for only money and business in his life. How he met Ebenezer Scrooge.

This is a book once started it doesn't take long to read. It is only 202 pages long. It does make you think.

I was given this book to read by Shadow Mountain so I could give an honest review of Jacob T. Marley and be part of it's blog tour. ( )
  rhonda1111 | Nov 25, 2014 |
We all know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, right? Well, this new book tells the story of Jacob T. Marley both before and after he met Scrooge as well as what happened after he died and his side of the story familiar to us in A Christmas Carol.

When I first this book, I was a little nervous and unsure how good it would be. In recent years, there has been a wealth of books acting as sequels, prequels or retelling of classic tales (how many new versions of Pride and Prejudice do we really need?). Obviously with so much content coming out, there are both gems and stinkers. I went into this novel cautiously optimistic.

Within the first couple of pages I quickly became relieved that this book looked to be a winner. The style, tone and very language felt VERY reminiscent of Dickens' writing in his original work. There were naturally some snippets of modern vernacular but for the most part, I felt as though I was fully engaged in a piece of classic Victorian literature. The way the narrative was presented was very similar to the layout and presentation of Dickens' work and thus it felt like a very natural companion piece.

I will say that some of the segments were a bit more intense than those from A Christmas Carol. These weren't horrific or modernly grotesque by any means and would have naturally appeared other novels of the time (in fact they would have fit in naturally in some of Dickens other works) but they felt more intense than scenes from the original work. I won't call out specific details because I don't want to spoil the story…I'll just say that the 'fire rescue' scene struck me as slightly more intense than I would expect in the Christmas Carol story.

The first half of the book focused on Jacob's life up until his death. We get to see how his own greed developed, paralleled Scrooge and even mentored and shaped Scrooge into what he became. I really enjoyed the vivid backstory and well-rounded presentation of Marley's life. In the same way that Scrooge is an initially unlovable character, Marley is also very repulsive through the first half of this book.

As Marley dies, we are taken into an interesting new twist in the layout of the story. Instead of merely jumping ahead to Scrooge's experience on that fateful Christmas Eve, we first get to see into Marley's afterlife and the years between his death and his reappearance to Scrooge in the Dickens novel.

The presentation of Marley's afterlife is not overtly religious (there's a brief reference to "Him") but presents a lot of religious ideals. In A Christmas Carol, Dickens outlines Scrooge's numerous vices and presents counterpoints to him through the visions he sees. In this book, Jacob Marley engages in a conversation with a Spirit not present in the first book. Marley and this Spirit talk about the nature of humanity, morality, love, choice and other virtues. Their discussion felt natural and logical to the story while still definitely teaching a more profound message.

By the end of their conversation, Marley's remorse has extended into a hope for reconciliation not for himself (who he believes too far gone) but for Ebenezer Scrooge. Marley blames himself for leading Scrooge farther down the path that will lead to his eternal damnation. Marley pleads for the opportunity to help redeem Scrooge but first he must serve some of his own penance through wandering the earth with the chains of his own working.

After many years of wandering, Jacob Marley finally arrives at the crossroads we are all familiar with…his visit to Scrooge and the subsequent visits of the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. At this point, I expected the book to skip ahead or onto some parallel path rather than to let Marley share the journey with Scrooge. I was surprised to find that Marley was invited, even compelled, to travel with the ghosts and Scrooge (invisible to Scrooge, of course) to learn more about the nature of love, compassion, joy and goodness.

I really enjoyed seeing this aspect of the story through a different perspective. The side discussions between Marley and the various ghosts were also very fun and interesting and provided more insight. When Scrooge talked with the Ghosts, he was still caught up in his own greed, pride and humanity. When Marley spoke with the Ghosts, he did so with the insight of a soul long dead and already striving for his own redemption. As such, the commentary was more overt and direct.

Given the choice between the two books, I would probably read A Christmas Carol instead of Jacob T. Marley…but truly they are both very quick reads and great companion pieces to each other, so I think my preference would actually be to read both of them.

I am thoroughly impressed by this addition to the Christmas tradition. Bennett did a great job capturing the tone and feel of Dickens' classic work. Furthermore, he took the opportunity to expound on the wonderful lessons and emotions that we should share and teach at Christmastime. I found myself absolutely enjoying this book and eagerly recommending it to others. A fun and edifying read.

****
4.5 out of 5 stars ( )
1 vote theokester | Dec 19, 2011 |
"There are three realisations mankind can experience that might give them cause for change. First, remorse for what is gone but might have been in the past. Second, a shocking awareness of where they are in the present. Finally, fear for what will be in the future, should their paths not change. These three missions make up our cause"

It's hard for a lot of us to imagine Christmas without some iteration of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, be it re-reading the novella itself or singing along to the jaunty Muppet adaptation. Any author readying themselves to stand alongside Dickens has to be brave. Fortunately, Bennett also happens to be up to the job and proves it in this re-telling of the old favourite.

The whole book is infused with the same sense of magic and mystery that haunts its predecessor. Bennett adopts a style that is similar to Dickens' tale but without feeling like a sham. The writing was so fluid that it often felt like reading poetry. At first, I was highlighting the passages that I loved and wanted to remember. Then I realised that I was doing it so often that it was becoming ridiculous. It didn't take long for me to grasp that the everything was going to be noteworthy.

This is a story that feels familiar and follows the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Futrue but still manages to offer something new, filling in the blanks for those that always wondered what Jacob T. Marley was up to in the years between his death and the night he loomed before Scrooge with his face in the door knocker, why it was that he was the one to try to redeem Ebenezer's soul and how close he came to losing the battle.

Obviously we can't know what Dickens was imagining but, because this is so well done, I'd like to think that this is it. As you can imagine, the book is filled with scenes and quotes that at any other time of the year would seem trite. Read at Christmas, however, against a backdrop of tinsel and well-wishing and they are just bewitching. I 'closed' the eBook wanting to call everybody I loved and make sure that they knew it, make a concerted effort to sprinkle Christmas spirit everywhere and be better. And isn't that really what Christmas is about?

5 out of 5 stars, for finally making me feel festive!

"And to this day, when we find ourselves in the right place at the right time to assist a poor wayfarer on the path of life, a moment's pause may recall the story of good old Scrooge and good old Marley, and our hearts may be softened, we may stop to listen, and we may even offer a hand of kindness to the one who just happens, by some circumstances, to cross our path" ( )
  litaddictedbrit | Dec 17, 2011 |
Christmas is coming and what would the holiday be without a really good, uplifting story to put us into the mood. For me, like so many others, that story has always been A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It is full of wonderful characters which have remained in our collective psyche since its publication - Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Three Spirits. And, of course, Jacob Marley.

Jacob is a minor but very important character in Dickens' novel. In life, he was Scrooges' partner and just as greedy, grasping, and callous. He was, in many ways, Scrooges' mentor if training in greed can be called mentoring. In death, he returned for only a short time to show Scrooge the wages of a heartless life and to help restore his humanity. This is Marley's story.

And just as A Christmas Carol is the story of Scrooges' redemption, this is the story of Marley's. After a life defined by avarice, Marley receives an epiphany on his deathbed. he realizes that his life has been a waste but, worse, he must take much of the blame for how Scrooge has turned out. He will spend his afterlife trying to right this wrong even if he must add the burden of Scrooges' sins to his own.

Author R William Bennet manages to recreate Dickens' style nicely. Jacob T. Marley retains the atmosphere and poignancy of the original story while avoiding the schmaltz that Dickens' style could easily lend itself to.

So grab a cup of egg nog, pull up a comfy chair and enjoy this heartwarming sequel to Dickens' most loved Christmas tale. ( )
  lostinalibrary | Nov 30, 2011 |
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Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"A parallel account to Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol, recounting events from the point of view of Scrooge's old partner, Jacob Marley"--Provided by publisher.

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