Title: Mr. Dickens and His Carol
By: Samantha Silva
ISBN: 1250154049 (ISBN13: 9781250154040)
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
Charles Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas. But when his latest book, ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. Dickens has no choice but to grudgingly accept … (Goodreads)
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva is an engaging, historical fiction chosen by my bookclub to read for our December meeting. I am so glad that we chose this book – a great way to begin the holiday season. The story tells of how “A Christmas Carol” came into being – or at least this particular author’s telling J. As a first time novelist, I found the writing of Samantha Silva very good. Easy to read and it flowed well. Her descriptions of London were very compelling and had me spell bound.
Mr. Dickens is in a pickle – his latest writing endeavour, Martin Chuzzlewit, is not such a huge success. In order to appease his publishers, he is required to write a Christmas book. With a tight deadline for producing the Christmas book, mounting financial challenges, birth of his latest child and a wife set on holding grand holiday parties we have a very stressed Dickens. Given some familial strife (Mrs. Catherine Dickens seems to be in the throes of post-partum depression), Catherine and the children head off to Scotland. And thus the tale begins. A deliciously well crafted tale that will keep you engaged!
The description of his children upon the birth of his new son really had me intrigued (and possibly wishing I could meet his brood). The descriptions and pet names of each child was cute. He must rally have loved his children. Though I do believe in this book the sheer number of offspring is underreported:
He wanted to leap for the stairs to greet his new son, but here were his children already born, clamoring for his attention and compelling as ever. Katey was his Lucifer-Box, the pet name he’d invented in honor of her fiery petulance. Young Charley was Flaster Floby or the Snodgering Blee. Walter was Young Skull for his fine high cheekbones. Frank was Chicken Stalker, after a comic character in The Chimes. But dear Mamie was Mild Glo’ster for her quiet, reliable nature, like the cheese.
Many questions arose as I kept reading, but some have a well known outcome. One in particular is will Charles get that Christmas novel written? Yes J Is the process without strife? No. The journey is filled with some interesting tangents and surprises. I shall leave all of that for each reader to discover for themselves.
Was Dickens really known as “Boz”? So many things written in the book had me wondering what was fact and what was fiction. I did go on Wikipedia, etc. to do some fact finding to clarify a few things after I completed reading the book. I think that was a plus of reading this book – inciting my quest for more knowledge on the formidable writer, Charles Dickens.
It was a bit of a game for me to find the references to his books and characters! While this book is a piece of fiction, I did find that there is enough truth woven into the story to make it completely believable.
A truly delightful read. I feel that my timing of this read (in December) was very fortuitous, for it definitely has gotten me in the holiday spirit and anticipating my annual watching of the movie “A Christmas Carol”. So if you read this story as a historical fiction novel, without worrying about the historical accuracy and take it for what it is…a fiction read… you will have a very enjoyable read!