Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Book Review - A Christmas Carol

Author: Charles Dickens
Year: 1843

A Christmas Carol is the definition of a classic.  I remember the story first from Mickey's Christmas Carol, a childhood favorite.  I've seen the tale performed at a dinner theatre, at a local theatre, been in a community theatre version myself, watched Scrooged.  And then there are countless film adaptations: Jim Carey, Patrick Stewart, George C. Scott, Kelsey Grammer.  My point is that we've all heard the story, are familiar with the plot, get the message.  But how many of us have ever read the original book from cover to cover?  I hadn't until this Christmas when I decided that I needed to remedy that.  It was written so very long ago, you'd think there would be a ton lost in translation, that the archaic language would be a barrier, that it'd just be better to watch one of the movies.  Not the case, as the novel is extremely strong on its own and shows just what it means to be a timeless piece of art.

Ebenezer Scrooge, the stingiest man in London, the cold-hearted money-man who hasn't a friend in the world.  The closest thing he had to a companion was his business partner Jacob Marley, who has recently died.  But with Christmas fast approaching Scrooge's mind isn't on his loss but on the fools who are jolly for no other reason than the time of year.  His employee wants a day off, charity men want donations; bah & humbug says Scrooge.  But on Christmas Eve his life changes forever.  Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Marley who has a message to deliver; change your ways now or wear the chains of your miserable existence throughout eternity.  Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts, the spirits of Past, Present, and Future.  They will show Scrooge the happy life he once knew, the enduring strength of Christmas in the hearts of man, and the grim fate that awaits him if he does not let the joy of the season in to warm his frozen soul.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me that the book is so good; it endured this long for a reason.  And although I've seen a lot of well-made versions of the story, none are better than the original text.  The language of the book takes a few pages to get used to; it's long-winded at times, using a manner that is quite different from what we use today.  But once you pass through that block, the story unfolds and sucks you into a fantastic world of Christmas spirit.  I'm not going to say that it taught me major lessons, but I did appreciate the message and the moral of the tale; it was well thought out and solidly delivered.  The characters are great, the writing is entertaining, and the story never drags or feels laborious.  Obviously Dickens is a genius, whether or not you can make it through his more arduous books.  But A Christmas Carol is fairly easy to read, short, enjoyable, and can be read to all ages.  A classic in every sense of the word and a story worth reading even if you've heard it a million times.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

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