Yes folks, it is still Christmas for a couple of days.
I need say nothing about A Christmas Carol which I haven’t said before. I read it every Christmas and it never fails to delight.
Dickens at Christmas contains several stories I’d never read before; I bought it when it was 80p for the Kindle. Oh dear. Take out A Christmas Carol, which is included in the collection, and the first part of the book could be re-titled The Worst Of Dickens. I couldn’t finish the extract from The Pickwick Papers but that’s not surprising as it was years before I could get right through the book. I struggled through The Chimes, was totally bemused by The Cricket on the Hearth and nauseated by The Battle of Life. There is so much ammunition here for people who ‘hate Dickens’: facetiousness instead of wit; the use of unnecessary description and twenty words where one would do; sentimentality; melodrama. And yet … You have to remember the audience these stories were written for: the readers of Dickens’ magazines. They wanted stories glorifying home and the angel of the hearth. They expected ghost stories, not necessarily pleasant, at Christmas. They loved to weep over a book. And there are so many flashes of Dickens’ genius. For instance, in the frightening story The Haunted Man there’s a section about the Tetterby family which could have come from one of his best novels.
( it gets better )