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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
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A Christmas Carol (original 1843; edition 2003)

by Charles Dickens

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12,124255208 (4.07)2 / 904
fyrefly98's review
The only Dickens I've ever read. This story has become part of our cultural lexicon much more than most other classics, but reading the original version gave me a better insight into the moral and messages, beyond the top layer that everyone knows about. I think this book better encapsulates what should be "the Christmas spirit" than any holiday special will ever be able to do. Familiar, comforting, and moving... and excellently narrated by Jim Dale, who was flawless as always. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Dec 8, 2006 |
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This is an okay book, but I don't understand the reason why it made it to the "1001 Books to Read Before You Die" list (in fact, I don't understand why majority of the books are in the list). I do accept the fact that some people may have a moment of insight (which doesn't necessarily need to happen in the Christmas holidays) and completely change their personalities in a couple of hours, but I still thought the book was very... forceful in these terms. But then again, this seems to be a book meant to be read by the end of the year, when everybody has that fuzzy feeling within their hearts. Or maybe just to give some hope to children, whatever. This book is not bad. It's not even THAT boring. But I also don't see what's the big deal with it. ( )
  aryadeschain | Aug 26, 2014 |
See my review on [b:A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Stories|7153379|A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Stories|Charles Dickens|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1260552417s/7153379.jpg|18659151] ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
A popular favorite and deservedly so. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
This feels more like a book Dickens discovered than one that he wrote. Worth re-reading every few years. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
I am a big fan of this classic. The themes presented by Dickens are still found in today's society (greed, judgement, obsession with work and money, classism, poverty, etc.), which makes its message always relevant. The values the three ghosts strive to show Scrooge the importance of (love, compassion, empathy, generosity, kindness, etc.) are still universally desired traits in today's modern world.
  JocelynPLang | Jun 8, 2014 |
Just finished my annual rereading of this classic. This book has been done and redone for movies and TV, so that it's almost become a cliche. I can't tell you how many different TV movies on Lifetime, ABC Family, and Hallmark Channel are rewwrites of this book. I'm not spoiling anything here by revealing the plotline. Scrooge, the old miser, gets a visit from his old partner, then from spirits of Christmas past, present, and future. After all this, he's a changed man. The power of this book is in the description of the characters and the scenes. It makes Victorian England c. 1843 come alive, something that the TV movies don't do. The spirit Scrooge fears most is the future. The past is secure. However much he hates what happened, it's already happened. The present is where he is. He's used to that. It's the future that is the unknown. It's especially scary when he finds out he's dead and no one cares. That's what shocks him into change. Read the original book, and find out why this is a classic. ( )
  jmcgarry2011 | May 9, 2014 |
Everybody knows the story of 'A Christmas Carol'. It is a timeless classic. But I although I knew it, I had never read it. I'll admit, it was slightly difficult to get into but once I was up to the Last Spirit I flew through it. I think I just needed the time to sit down and devote my attention to it. And I am very, very glad that I did. ( )
  crashmyparty | Apr 22, 2014 |
Dickens eminently accesible, immortal masterpiece. ( )
  schmicker | Apr 19, 2014 |
A mean'ol man named Scrooge disdains Christmas and Christmas spirit. During Scrooge's sleep three ghosts visit him. The first ghost is of Christmas past who brings Scrooge to his previous Christmases. The next ghost is of Christmas present. The final ghost is of Christmas future. In the future peolpe are rejoicing over the death of the greedy man. When Scrooge wakes up on the Christmas morning he realizes his ways and gives out money and visits his nephew for dinner.

I found this book a quick read. I would not recommend this book because the story is just the same as anyone knew it. Besides that, it was a great movie. But, this book also was death defyingly boring. It is a good classic if you are into those types of books. This book was not thrilling, it is not like it was glued to your fingers either. I will not read this book to my children. ( )
  SeraphinaC.B4 | Mar 3, 2014 |
A Christmas Carol defines the best parts of Christmas. I’m a huge fan of Christmas, but not so much about the mall shopping or online sales or that kind of stuff. More about the parts where we all agree (in theory) to be a little more patient, a little more cheery, a little more forgiving, and a little more generous with ourselves and one another. And the possibility that we can take those traits into the rest of the year as well. This story hits those themes hard.

Scrooge is so delightfully miserly at the beginning. He begrudges his clerk a holiday on Christmas day. He refuses to give to charity because his tax dollars already go to welfare programs. He actually says that the death of the poor will help with the surplus population! Jeeze, what a jerk. But people put up with him because he’s rich. Any other reason? There doesn’t seem to be, and we realize later that no one much likes him at all, even the businessmen he works with.

What we learn about Scrooge through his experiences with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Be is that he’s pathetic. For all his industry and his keen business savvy, he’s something that inspires nothing but pity in us. He earns money, but he doesn’t spend it on anything to make himself or anyone around him more comfortable. Money for money’s sake, but at the expense of human connections. In his mind, he’s superior to everyone; but to everyone, he’s a pitiful wretch.

Of course, what makes this such a great story is Scrooge’s dramatic turnaround. Maybe he can’t get back everything he’s lost for his love of money, but over time he can repair a lot. He goes from being the most ungenerous, bitter, greedy person on Earth to becoming the epitome of generosity and good will all year round. Sound like too much? That’s just the magic of Christmas. ( )
  JLSmither | Feb 2, 2014 |
It is short and easy to read, and everybody pretty much knows the story. The plot is simple. Nice, easy read. ( )
  krista.rutherford | Jan 3, 2014 |
We all know the story. Most of us having seen the films several times over the years, but how many have actually read the original book?

Dickens provides a unique insight into the life of poverty stricken Victorian England. Some of the phrases used may seem a little dated now, and a number of words no longer used at all but the meaning of the novel still carries as much weight today as when it was written. Dickens creates characters that are easy to empathise with, and draws us into their world as well as any other writer. Published in 1843 it's message of philanthropy and generosity has inspired countless thousands across many generations and remains as relevant as ever.

Well worth a read. ( )
  Bridgey | Jan 1, 2014 |
It was time to read this great book again having seen Scrooge the musical with Tommy Steele at the Brighton Centre. Stunning read ( )
  cbinstead | Dec 26, 2013 |
For this year’s Christmas book, I finish up with the last of the three Christmas-themed books published by the Barbarian Press. It’s fitting that the last is also the first in many respects. It was the first Christmas book that the press printed, and the tenth book overall, when it was published in 1984. It was also the first time they were to publish a book with illustrations. According to Hoi Barbaroi: A Quarter Century at the Barbarian Press, “the most important result of working with engravings was JE’s discovery of her affinity for printing them.” Finally, it was also the first time that Crispin cast type for a Barbarian Press book. Jim Rimmer of the Pie Tree Press & Typefoundry taught him to cast type and he was hooked. They bought the Monotype Sorts Caster from Rimmer and were off and running down another of printing’s many fascinating twists and turns.

Joel H. Kaplan, “a Shakespeare scholar and devotee of 19th century theatre,” was instrumental in suggesting and making this book happen. He also wrote the very informative introduction to the edition. It is quite amazing how quickly Dickens’ books were adapted for the stage, in some cases before the author’s publisher even got the official book out, and complete with competing versions from rival playhouses and companies. Kaplan writes that by the time A Christmas Carol, Dickens had begun “actively assisting with stage representations of his works.” The stage adaptor Dickens turned to for the authorized version, Edward Stirling, is not the one we get the pleasure of meeting here. Rather, the press chose the “distinctly unauthorized” melodramatic and farcical version by C. Z. Barnett. According to the Barbarian Press website, adapting to the dictates of the popular theatre of the time meant that

Bob Cratchit becomes a wise-cracking clown; Fred, Scrooge’s nephew, loses his wealth in a shipwreck, but keeps a seasonably upper lip so as not to disturb his guests; Cratchit is mugged on his way home by a completely new character, Dark Sam, and financially reprieved by nephew Fred; and Tiny Tim – now, next to Scrooge, the symbol of the story – is relegated to a very minor position, and the famous ‘God bless us every one!’ doesn’t even make an appearance.

I definitely like the new Crachit and his cutting up around the well-known story line. He’s still poor enough for Scrooge to get in a pun at his expense even while marveling that he can still be happy and blessed. At the beginning of Act Two where Scrooge visits with the Spirit of Christmas Present, he remarks

“Bob has fifteen bob a week. He pockets on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian name, and yet the Ghost of Christmas Present blessed his four-roomed house.”
It’s really interesting to have so many perspectives on a piece of literature by an author who has become part of the world literature canon. We have the book itself as Dickens published it, we have the early stage adaptations, and we have the numerous modern theatre, opera, television, and other media adaptations. The story takes on a life of it’s own, effects how Christmas is observed and our charitable giving, and has contributed common phrases like “Merry Christmas” and “Bah! Humbug” to the popular vernacular. Indeed, sometimes you have to go back to the original source to reset your perception of the novella itself, and that’s where I’m headed next.

The book itself is beautiful to hold and to behold. I especially like the paper title label on the front cover that runs from top to bottom and whose creaminess creates a pleasing contrast to the red cloth binding, particularly with the addition of the red border printed along both sides of the label. The book is slip-cased in a matching cloth-covered case. Alas, it is without a spine label (a pet peeve of mine) but they make up for it by providing a ribbon that makes removing the book much easier and is elegant to boot.

The illustrations were done by Edwina Ellis, who went on to being an internationally known printmaker. The Rasmussen Bindery in North Vancouver did the binding. And the Barbarian press settled into a synergy that has seen so many beautiful and award-winning books come our way: Jan doing the printing and Crispin designing the books and setting the type.

When I spoke to Crispin about A Christmas Carol, he seemed a little bit self-conscious of this book, being that it was a product of such an early stage of the press’ road to mastery. But to my eye, it’s a marvelous expression of holiday cheer and publishing. I certainly don’t see a first-timer in the printing of the illustrations by Jan, and the design of the book is simple and elegant. It’s too bad the market did not allow the press to complete their plans to publish all of Dickens’ Christmas books.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Thank you for your interest in and support for The Whole Book Experience. Have a peaceful and joyful 2014.

AVAILABILITY: Originally published in an edition of 350 copies, the book is no longer available through the press but occasionally can be found on the used- and fine-book market.

NOTE: The Whole Book Experience would like to thank Jan and Crispin of the Barbarian Press for the generosity that made this review possible.

For the complete book review with photographs, including the physical book and overall reading experience, visit my blog The Whole Book Experience at http://www.thewholebookexperience.com/
1 vote jveezer | Dec 23, 2013 |
Is it any surprise that listening to Tim Curry read this incredible story aloud was a memorable treat? I had never read the story before and thoroughly appreciated it to a much greater degree than any film or stage version. Dickens is unsurpassed in his use of language, his memorable characters, and great storytelling! ( )
1 vote hemlokgang | Dec 22, 2013 |
I've seen multiple television and film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, but I don't think I had read the original story/novella before now. While this was my first experience with the book, it won't be my last. Dickens' tale is full of nuances that are missing from the adaptations I've seen. The humorous parts were funnier and the melancholy parts were more heart-wrenching than the movies. I wish I could have experienced the book just once without images from the films crowding my mind. I'd like to form my own image of Dickens' descriptions of Scrooge, his office, his home, Marley's ghost, and the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. ( )
  cbl_tn | Dec 17, 2013 |
I read this with a smile on my face, for who doesn't enjoy a redemption story? ( )
  fuzzi | Dec 8, 2013 |
A delight to re-visit this classic Christmas story. ( )
1 vote berthacummins | Nov 24, 2013 |
This book is about a man who is very grumpy and does not like christmas and is very rude to people. He is visited by three ghosts past, present, and future to see his life played out before him. He is then asked to turn his life around before it is too late for him. He saves christmas and his life from being ruined.

My personal experience to this book is who doesn't love Christmas and happy endings. This is a great book for children to learn about how to treat others and how being unhappy can make your life miserable. It is a great story kids love to listen to but it also has a lot of learning involved with it.

Children could write a story of what they think will happen in their future.
Children could role play with doing good deeds for each other.
  afrazier13 | Nov 18, 2013 |
A Christmas Carol, a well known classic by Charles Dickens. I don't know if I ever really read it or just knew it from the many TV and radio shows that I have seen, many of which are quite true to the book. This story read as if the narrator was talking directly to me. It was a bit sarcastic and a bit dry humor and it was a fun read. I am not going to worry about spoilers here as who wouldn't know this story? The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future come to Scrooge and teach him to be a better man. The ghost of the past is shiny because the past always seems brighter than the present but with parts fading from memory, the present was an interesting blend of paganism and Christianity (our modern Christmas). What descriptions of colorful foods and Christmas scenes! The Ghost of the future was hardly visible and had no voice. Dickens always likes to deal with social problems and here he deals with ignorance and want which threaten the future. Dicken's characters of course our stereotypes; greedy oppressive capitalist, the noble poor, Tiny Tim the precocious Prophet-child and Fred the optimist. And all ends well, and "may we know how to keep Christmas well."
( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
I found this book in an antiques book shop. Its a 1909 pocket size edition and bound in a suede cover with a note in the front saying "To Jacob love Minnie." I love everything about this little book from the Shakespeare quotes at the front to the different size pages throughout. Its a real old treasure. I've owned it for at least 5 years but never actually read it due to its frail state and the fact I know the story in side out. However i had a few days before my new book was due to come through the post so I decided to get into the christmas spirit. It was exactly how I remember it. Normally when I go back and read books from my childhood i'm bitterly disappointed about how rubbish it actually was compared to my amazing childish memory of it however this book was as great today as it was 14 years ago and alas 100 years before that! Everyone should read it at least once. ( )
1 vote shelley.s | Oct 30, 2013 |
Classic. If you have never read this, now is a good time to. ( )
  autumnleaving | Sep 27, 2013 |
I have seen at least five film versions of this small book and now I have red the book for (at least) the third time. This is the ultimate Christmas story, by the author who practically invented the way Christmas is being celebrated in the western World.
The greedy man Scrooge who hates everything around him, meets four ghosts before Christmas and changes completely. That is the simple story, but nobody could have written it down like Dickens did. Five stars, without the slightest reservation. ( )
  ReneH | Sep 26, 2013 |
Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carol - it has been told a thousand times in a thousand different ways and it says a lot about the power of the original text that it can be re-interpreted so often yet people still find it fresh.

The reinterpretations never stray too far from the general concept (in fact I'd say the Muppets version surprisingly was one of the most loyal versions of the story - bonus points to Kermit & co!) so basically it comes down to whether you like the story of not. I'm a sucker for redemption & ghosts and all those themes so I enjoy it but I know that some people find the whole thing a little gloomy.

Regardless, this is a classic for a reason and, especially at Christmas, well worth a read. ( )
  sunnycouger | Sep 20, 2013 |
I try to reread this one every year at Christmas, though I'm a little late with it this year. It is just as wonderful each time. ( )
  rrainer | Sep 20, 2013 |
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