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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2011
If you are interested in owning a facsimile version of this classic book, or perhaps you want to give it as a gift then I can't recommend this version enough.

I was unsure when I first ordered this version as the picture and description didn't give much away, other than it was printed as the original was on first publishing and it contained the iconinc John Leech designs. However I am over the moon with the presentation of this book. First of all it comes encased in a hard and durable slip case (with the picture you see in the description above printed on the cover). I was glad to see it was not a flimsy card slip case but something that looked nice and will protect the actual book.

Inside the slip case is a red hard back book (small in size, about fifteen-sixteen centimetres in length)with bevelled holly decorations around the outside and a gold embossed holly design in the middle with the title. The spine also features this gold embossed design. It looks absolutely wonderful. The pages have been gold leafed for that extra touch and inside the pages use the original typeface and designs from David Leach. There's a preface to the book which makes an intersting read including Charles Dickens handwritten preface and drafts. Perhaps best of all is the wonderful illustrations and wood cuttings throughout from John Leech, wonderfully printed here on quality paper.

The story is also as the original was (there have been many abridged and altered versions). We all know the story by now, but for the young who may not I can't think of a better gift to receive than this. It will be cherished for a long time by me and I'm sure many others who purchase it. For the price it's an absolute bargain.
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on 7 November 2012
I have never read any of Charles Dickens so it is now time to try them all. I am taking my kindle on holiday and will hopefully read many of the Dickens classics and others.
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on 23 December 2017
I thought I should at least read something loosely related to Christmas this December. I'm sure that everybody knows the Christmas Carol story. However, my early recollections seemed to involve Disney's Donald Duck and some of Mickey Mouse's relatives. I was slightly bemused by this vague memory and thought I must have been mistaken until I found the list of film adaptations.

It seems that there was a Disney version of this and DD had been renamed Scrooge McDuck for the purposes. Very confusing for a child. Anyway....

The book is somewhat different as, year after year, the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge makes it his business to ruin Christmas for everybody. This, until, his former business partner's ghost appears and warns him of several expected visitors. The ghost of Christmas past, present and future seek to remind Scrooge of his failings, show him that he has no excuse and warn him of his eventual demise if he doesn't mend his ways. The shock of the spooky meanderings by themselves would probably have been enough to jolt any sane person to their senses and Scrooge is no exception as he dramatically seeks to change his ways.

I hear groans from some as I look at what this book can teach us spiritually. I'm not sure that much can be learned from ghosts, in duck form or otherwise, seeing as they don't exist, well at least, they aren't reappearances of those who have already departed. Perhaps, though, we can learn what Christmas is not about through this tale:

There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!

You will note that the nephew highlights everything except the true meaning of Christmas. This, he touches on briefly in the form of veneration rather than a celebration of the biggest event ever to occur on planet Earth (apart from the crucifixion!)

I've noticed an increasing hardness of heart year on year as people get busier and busier celebrating something that they know little or nothing about. Gifts abound and credit cards are maxed out for this event that people spend all year thinking about and planning for....yet the true meaning has been totally lost. It would be seriously bizarre if it wasn't so tragic that the enemy has succeeded in blinding the eyes of so many people through materialism, or a misplaced focus on religious tradition.

On a side note, I also noticed that Dickens had a brief dig at conservative Christians in this novel as he commented that it was a misinterpretation of the will of the higher power for shops and other commercial enterprises to be closed on Sundays.

There was one useful gem in the book which we would do well to bear in mind:

Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused!

Life is an opportunity to serve God and to tell others of the good news of Jesus Christ especially at this time of the year when we remember His birth. Let's keep the true meaning of Christmas at the centre of our celebrations and offer hope to those who don't yet know Him!
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on 10 August 2016
I have rarely picked up a book and ridden a whirlwind of emotions as when I read A Christmas Carol. This book made me laugh, cry, scream, want to shout and bounce around the room at times. It injected me with life and feelings and a desire, at the end of it, to follow in Scrooge's footsteps. Although written easily and lightheartedly, A Christmas Carol has deep and meaningful messages hidden in the joviality and such darkness. In what story do we have to face the fact of our own miserable deaths? Charles Dickens pulls it off tastefully and powerfully, humbling as you read it. What could have been a disgusting scene with the corpse and gravestone was earth-shatteringly beautiful and meaningful. It left not a taste of disgust but a desire to make the most of what is left. What we do in life echoes from the rest of eternity so we should use the time well. For Scrooge he had a chance to change it around, correct his mistakes and he did.

Drawn into his heartrending story, I pitied that Scrooge's misery was all his own doing and within his control to end at any time he just needed to be made aware of it. Seeing a horrible man taken to pieces and put back together again to make a good man was a wonderful thing. It made me grow so attached to the man as only to wish him good and well on his way, a man that at the beginning of the book was truly hateful in every sense. Even those of us that live alone, are not alone in this world. It is easy when you aren't surrounded by a family to forget about the rest of it and grow bitter and twisted, feeling hardened and left out, somehow wronged by the undeserving and jolly world of happy families. It is easy to form unhealthy habits and negative mindsets when you have nobody to break you out of it. Scrooge ended up unpleasant because of his loneliness and attachment to money, a hard substance that cannot hurt or betray you or make you feel left out. The kindly ghosts showed Scrooge an alternative, reminding him of another access into happiness. If only these ghosts were real and visited us all there would be no misery or heartache in this world!

Ebenezer Scrooge was an extreme character, deeply set in his habits and ways, an extreme example of what most us in some sense can relate to. Although Charles Dickens isn't subtle about his messages, placing Tiny Tim on the screen and The Grim Reaper as The Ghost Of Christmas Future, it didn't bother me one bit. A Christmas Carol is a masterpiece and a lesson in the workings of the human soul. We all need people and cannot live out our lives alone, with nothing but our money and stuff to keep us company. It made me sit back and wonder about my own life, as well as entertaining me with an amazing story and truly loveable characters that grew every turn of the page. I love the jolly tone radiating throughout this book and yet its earnestness inspires me with a smile on my face. Stunning! And to think that he came up with this two hundred years ago! You cannot tell it was written so long ago. I have often found with classics that they have not aged well. This is an exception. Charles Dickens was a genius and if I could go back in time and meet a person I would gladly choose him.

Charles Dickens has a simplistic and yet powerful way of writing, his sentences and the choice of his words drawing emotions deep down from the heart. I find myself captivated by every word on the page, as though looking at a painting, every stroke of which adds to its beauty and yet the entire thing is infinitely more than the sum of the individual parts. To quote a few of my favourite passages:

'As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground, towards him.'

'Scrooge was the ogre of the family. The mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, which was not dispelled for full five minutes. After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the baleful being done with.'

'Where angels might have lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.'

I aspire to do with words what Charles Dickens effortlessly procures. Everything he writes you can either see or feel in vivid clarity and it leaves a lasting impression, teaches you something of either the world, people or yourself. I think he must have been a lover of people to spend so much time and effort taking them apart and write them in such profundity. I need not tell anyone to read A Christmas Carol, probably one of the best and most moving books ever written and the sheer number of films that have been based on this story support this fact.
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on 28 May 2015
Already got it
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on 29 April 2015
I don't usually write reviews for rereads, especially for books that get pulled out on a yearly basis, but I thought this one deserved a few words. Everyone knows this story whether they have read it or not. It's been captured and held ransom, adapted and retold, twisted and turned inside out - yet the original still stands the test of time. There are several reasons for this I think.

A lot of said adaptation seem to capture only the most shallow, facile shadow of what the book is saying. It's not especially a christian message, by the way, but a message on being human - being 'kind' in the original sense of the word ie acting in accordance with the best of human nature. Scrooge has clearly fallen off this path. His gods are money and wealth, he worships them via his work as a money lender on a daily basis, never questioning WHY. A lot of his self-worth is tied up in his success and he measures success in financial terms alone, not taking into account that this is a measure of him as a money lender not as a human being!

However, he's not impervious. If he was, even as unpleasantly as he behaves initially, then the entire premise would fall apart. One of the things that adaptations of this book skip over is the way in which his mind is changed, opened. A lot of them leave it at Scrooge being frightened into better behaviour. This is ridiculous. For someone truly hardened into habits of selfishness, greed and disdain, no fright would effect a change that would last a life time. It is also a hollow interpretation as it removes the power of choice from Scrooge, which to be honest falls flat. Why select the vicious old miser for redemption when he has no interest in partaking of it?

Happily the book does not suggest this. The spirits are about rehabilitation. Showing Scrooge that for all his success, his life is futile and will be unremembered. That no amount of money is a substitute for a life lived well. Rehabilitation was not a greatly considered concept when it came to victorian prisons; it was much more about restitution if not outright punishment. Which is one reason that this book has endured. There is no carrot and stick approach here. Merely a simple appeal to logic that a man such as Scrooge would appreciate. It's easy to say 'if they're going to die then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population' when as the ghost of Christmas present points out, you don't know who the surplus are, what they're worth is and they are essentially faceless and nameless. It's a different thing to be confronted with some of those 'surplus' and find that those likely to die are worth ten of you in humane terms! To also be confronted with the good treatment you've received at an employer's hands and realise that your own conduct is shameful by contrast is another eye opener.

Finally a lot of people confuse the ghost of christmas yet to come with death. He/ it is not death : death is an inevitable outcome but how you live and how you die, what sort of ending you make, is not. What puts the final flush into Scrooge's resolve to change (something that started with the first ghost btw). He is struck with horror, not at his death but at how wasted and futile his life has been - that the most he has touched and affected his fellow man is to give relief and amusement by dying. And this is the stroke of genius because while Scrooge is a 'tight fisted hand at the grindstone' he cannot abide waste and here he is made aware of resource a hundred times more precious than money - life - and realises that he has been wasting it all this time.

Dickens was by all accounts a pretty thoroughly unpleasant man in many regards, but this is one where he really does show and plumb the depths of human nature.

Not really a ghost story. Not really even a christmas story. But I'd recommend this for anyone.
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on 5 January 2015
Every Christmas, I make a habit of reading Dickens’ famous A Christmas Carol – or as it is simply called in our household: Scrooge, thanks to the wonderful film adaption staring Albert Finney as the eponymous villain-to-hero; a film I will always love and have practically grown up with,

It’s a concept by which I am forever intrigued: that of a novel becoming a film; adaptation; what can be achieved, for good or bad, depending largely upon whether we happen to have read the book first or seen the film – whichever comes first plays a major influence. I happen to think that it’s sometimes healthier to see the film first, for I’m certainly then more able to appreciate film-adaption, cutting/editing decisions made, and so forth, as well as what might be a tad superfluous here and there within the text – while knowing nothing ever should be in a good book; I get a proper level of both mediums. And how many times have you heard: ‘Oh the book’s much better!’

With Scrooge, or rather A Christmas Carol, the book is a classic, there’s no denying it; and it happens to contain one of my all-time favourite literary lines, when the Ghost of Christmas Past explains to Scrooge that: “These are but shadows of the things that have been.” Such a haunting line for me, that one.

Indeed, the novel is adorned with all the usual (accessible) colour and beauty of language that we would expect from Dickens; the magical way in which he seems able to personify just about anything he touches – a house losing itself up a back-alley!
As usual also with Dickens – as with any author – his angst creeps through the text at times, by the way he allows himself the odd snipe at incompetent people in important positions – we need to feel passionate about causes to be a real writer/artist and Dickens was no different.

But all this aside, what pleases me most with A Christmas Carol is that Dickens not only never pulls punches with regard to how things are/were, but he equally avoids the trite and saccharin that a lot of readers (and film viewers) tend to demand from a book (or film). They say all happy endings are ironic – what then? Might Finney’s Scrooge have soon awoken from a fit of Christmas Night/Day madness? Dickens skilfully covers his tracks, by informing us what will come of this beautiful story once the book is closed… And a beautiful, trite-less, uplifting story it is indeed…

A must for all readers of fiction…
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on 27 January 2018
It may come as a surprise to a lot of people, but this is my first ever read by Charles Dickens. Of course I know all about his work: I know who Miss Haversham is, grew up watching 'Oliver Twist', and what would Christmas truly be without 'The Muppets Christmas Carol'. The last is a Christmas film that really makes me feel festive, but songs aside, I decided to see how close it was to the actual original source, and whether that would give the same kind of feeling!

The short answer is: yes! I was surprised by how many direct quotes I recognised and this is definitely a festive story, to be enjoyed at Christmas time. I've decided through this small glimpse of his work that Mr Dickens had a WONDERFUL sense of humour and a gift when it came to writing. I was totally engrossed in the story! I meant only to load it up on my Kindle ready, but ended up reading the whole thing quite by accident! Even better, there really are some wonderful messages here, buried deep if you know where to look. For example, this is probably one of the best portrayals of female characters with ACTUAL PERSONALITY I've seen written by a man in the Victorian era.

As with all Victorian novels (thanks to the 'paid by word' rule for serial writers, or so I'm told) this is pretty wordy and repetitive at times. However, as I've said, Dickens was pretty brilliant in his method and there was almost a self awareness about this and he turned it into a humorous joke. I didn't find it irritating like I usually do, that's for sure! This book had fantastic character, and I loved the story, the spirits, descriptions and heartfelt, festive conclusion.
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on 19 January 2015
One of the most well-loved and popular Christmas stories of all time is Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’. Set during the mid 1800’s, when poverty and hardship were commonplace for many, this fictional story is centred on the main character of Ebenezer Scrooge, a penny-pinching miser, whose only real love is money. His view on the poor and homeless is that they should either go to prison or the workhouses and Christmas time is a loathsome event. He rejects seasonal goodwill to all, including his only relative Fred, with cries of ‘Bah! Humbug!’ and treats his downtrodden employee, Bob Cratchit, with contempt, paying him a pittance to work in a freezing office.
Scrooge is content with his solitary, lonely existence but is that all about to change with the visit of his former work colleague, Jacob Marley, as a chain ladened ghost. Who warns him that unless he changes his ways, he too will be destined for the same fate, he will be condemned to walk the afterlife with the burden of the choices he made in life. Marley warns Scrooge that he will be visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come. Can they show Scrooge the error of his ways? Will they change his life forever?

Although this novella was written over 170 years ago and at times the language Dickens uses can be difficult to grasp, don’t let this put you off, stick with it as the moral of the story transcends any language barrier; hope and redemption. It shows how one man, a selfish uncharitable man, can change into one with a conscience after being shown the consequences of his actions. Dickens makes us realise that we can all change to become a better person, if we only take the time to look back and reflect on our own life choices.

This book is a joy for anyone to read, however, I would suggest that due to the language Dickens uses, it would be more suitable for anyone over 14 years old. This story defines the spirit of Christmas and foe a feel good read during the holiday season, this is a must.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 February 2014
"A Christmas Carol" is not just A Christmas story, but one of THE Christmas stories -- not only is it instantly recognizable by pretty much everybody, but it's relentlessly copied and spoofed in countless Christmas specials. But taken just by itself, Charles Dickens' yuletide novella is a pretty bleak and bittersweet affair, with brilliant imagery and lots of ghostly weirdness.

Scrooge is... well, a scrooge -- a professional miser who hates Christmas, goodwill, charity, puppies, kittens, his relatives, his employees, and virtually everything else except money.

And on Christmas Eve, his dead partner Jacob Marley comes back, wrapped with supernatural chains, and claims that Scrooge is doomed to the same fate. But he has a chance at redemption: three ghosts representing will visit him that night, taking him on a guided tour of Christmases past, present and yet to come.

So Scrooge is transported on a trio of hourlong trips through time. The childlike Ghost of Christmas Past takes him to his bleak childhood, when he was less jaded and hard. The jolly Ghost of Christmas Present takes him to people's homes on the very next morning, specifically of of his nephew and the poor miner Bob Cratchit. And finally a Ringwraith-like spirit gives him a glimpse of Christmas years in the future... a bleak and terrible future, unless he changes his ways.

You can read plenty of symbolism into a story like "A Christmas Carol"; I've heard speculation about Dickens' father, the Industrial Revolution, spiritualism, and all sorts of other stuff. But at its heart, "A Christmas Carol" is the most powerful when appreciated for its story alone -- a story about a greedy, miserable man who redeems himself by learning to love all humanity.

Dickens' writing is utterly brilliant here. Most of the book is bleak, grimy and painted in shadows, with Dickens only rarely holding back from showing the dark situation of England's poor. A great example is the symbolic children Want and Ignorance ("a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds"). As for the Grim-Reaperlike third ghost, it's the stuff of nightmares.

But all isn't dark here. Occasionally Dickens splashes it with moments of crystalline brilliance ("It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and... its dress trimmed with summer flowers"). And as dark as the book is, Dickens offers hope for the future.

He also does a brilliant job with Scrooge, " a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire." Having worked hard to make us hate Scrooge, Dickens then deftly displays his skill at slowly revealing how Scrooge became who and what he is, and slowly redeeming him.

Charles Dickens created one of the greatest Christmas stories with "A Christmas Carol" -- bah humbugs, merry Christmases and all. God bless us, every one!
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