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The Chimes (in Large Print) Paperback – Large Print, 27 Feb 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Paperback, Large Print, 27 Feb 2004
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Product details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Quiet River Press LLC; Large type edition edition (27 Feb. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932732012
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932732016
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,588,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is one of the most acclaimed and popular writers of all time. His many works include the classics The Old Curiosity Shop, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, Barnaby Rudge, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Bleak House, Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend, The Pickwick Papers and many more.

Customer Reviews

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I had never heard of this Dickensian story before. I have to admit that it's not a patch on his other Christmas tale that I have read. (A Christmas Carol) but it still had a moral at it's heart.
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Format: Paperback
The second of Mr Dickens' Christmas Books. Following the huge success of A Christmas Carol Dickens wanted to write an even more savage attack on the political and economic theories of the day and I think he succeeded but, perhaps because of that, this short book is less fun to read than A Christmas Carol.

Toby Veck is a ticket-porter (a man employed to deliver articles on the London streets). He spends most of his days standing on the street waiting to be given a message. Due to the unreliable nature of his work he's not always able to pay his rent and grocery bills on time but despite this he is a relatively cheerful fellow who is very fond of his daughter, his only living relative.

In a way, The Chimes has a similar story to A Christmas Carol. There are some Scrooge-like characters who believe the poor are only poor because they are lazy and good for nothing and if they simply worked harder and were better people then they wouldn't be such a burden on society (sounds worryingly familiar to some modern day politicians). There are visitations by ghosts (in this case the spirits of the bells from the chapel close to where Toby stands all day) and then there is a happy ending.

The problem is that the spirits visit Toby, who has only been guilty of feeling discouraged about the state of the world after spending a day being told off by the clever sounding Scrooge-like gentlemen. As a result of this sound telling off, Toby has second thoughts about allowing his daughter to marry someone equally poor (one of the pet theories of these gentlemen is that the poor shouldn't be allowed to marry and have children who will also be poor). The spirits visit Toby and show him visions of what will become of his daughter and her fiancee if they don't marry.
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I would like to say that I am not usually a reader of Dickens, usually because I find the language a challenge. I started with Christmas Carol (because I knew the story)and then moved onto The Chimes. Accidently I discovered that this is the 2nd in a series of books, by Dickens, with a Christmas theme.

I wont lie, it took me a few pages to pick up the language, but when I did, more than I did with A Christmas Carol, I found myself lost in a wave of adjectives and feeling that really placed me at the scene.

The main character is Trotty, an older man who waits in the streets as a porter carrying messages for the rich. Trotty becomes despondent at the lack of social morality, high levels of crime and following an encounter with a group of well to do gentlemen who express their views that people such as Trotty and his daughter are lower than low and have no right to exist, particularly as they cannot clear their debts before the New Year starts.

In a similar way to A Christmas Carol the spirits come to show the main character, this time a poor man, to teach him to value what he has. The Spirits of the bells (The Chimes) take Trotty to see all of those who touch his life, and realise what impact our own actions and those of other can have.

I think that this is the book that made me realise just how much Dickens writes about social issues. I always thought of A Christmas Carol as being about one man. But now, after reading the Chimes and knowing the story of Oliver Twist (which I will read) I am keen to absorb more of Dickens' work.
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There are a number of reviews on Amazon and elsewhere for which talk about The Chimes (and The Cricket on the Hearth, Dickens' other Christmas story) 'letting Dickens down'. To me, it sounds rather as though those reviewers were expecting to read two stories which were equal in stature to A Christmas Carol - the story by which all Christmas-themed literature is judged, of course. On that basis, those people were almost certain to be disappointed - but letting Dickens down? Oh, please ...

It is an unequivocal certainty that no author, living, dead or yet to be, can possibly write a collection as vast as that for which Dickens was responsible and also maintain an absolutely consistent standard.

But ... this is Charles Dickens. For those who are foolish enough to believe The Chimes represents in some way a disservice to his standing, let me point out that we're talking about one of Britain's greatest novelists. A man who, deservedly, stands alongside the Austens, Brontes, Swifts et al when we talk of enduring literature.

Do I like all of Dickens' work? No, not at all. Some of it I find heavy going and overly moralistic. Do I recognise his astonishing ability to write a perfect turn of phrase, his uncanny knack of finding exactly the right word at the right time. his instinct for creating characters who are thought-provoking or situations which cause moral discomfort? Yes, absolutely.

Does The Chimes prompt the same immediate sense of affection as A Christmas Carol (a book I have read 35 times, by the way). For my part, no. But is it enjoyable, heartwarming and rich in festive cheer? Without question.

Do yourself a favour and ignore those reviewers who seem unable to look beyond the commercial popularity and Disney-ised interpretation of Dickens' greatest Christmas book and instead judge this on its own merits. I promise you won't be disappointed.
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