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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Prized Possessions
Quentin Buvelot, David Taylor, Rupert Goulding
Progress: 86/192 pages
The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry
Robert Chandler
The Uncertain Land and Other Poems
Patrick O'Brian
Progress: 6/160 pages
The Poems and Plays of John Masefield
John Masefield
Progress: 76/534 pages
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
Nicholas Ostler
Progress: 250/615 pages
Blue at the Mizzen (Aubrey/Maturin #20)
Patrick O'Brian
Progress: 73/272 pages
Selected Poems
U A Fanthorpe
Progress: 16/160 pages
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 133/789 pages
The Art Book
Editors of Phaidon Press
Progress: 11/515 pages
The Essential Shakespeare
Ted Hughes
Progress: 78/259 pages
A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings - Charles Dickens, Michael Slater

Christmas writings seem to often be drenched in nostalgia - even T.S. Eliot succumbed to it with The Cultivation of Christmas Trees. Dylan Thomas is another example. Dickens is no exception, with additional syrupy sentimentalism and overt Christian evangelism mixed with supernatural elements. Other famous Dickensian themes are also present; urban poverty and social injustice.


I found much of the book forgettable, the exceptions being the two longer stories, A Christmas Carol and The Haunted Man. The former had little impact, bled of all power by exposure to countless pop culture re-tellings. The latter made more of an impression - not only unfamiliar but showing some skill at atmosphere in the supernatural parts, which I could have wished for more of. The moral that our sorrows, troubles and wrongs are what make us empathetic and compassionate is as heavy handed as the tone of the much more famous tale of Scrooge.


So, dear readers, my limited experiences with Dickens have not been very positive: Hard Times as a teenager was a disaster. This was mostly meh. I want to give him one last chance, though, and I enlist your help: what is the one novel likely to convert me into a Dickens fan? Suggestions in the comments, please!