A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.

This quote perfectly describes the condition of Ebenezer Scrooge and his heart at the beginning of the novella. Be forewarned, this review does contain what some would consider spoiler material. However, I can’t imagine anyone reading this review who is not already very familiar with the entire story of Ebenezer Scrooge.


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

This version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, masterfully narrated by Tim Curry, was available for a limited time last year, and now it’s back. This one-of-a-kind performance puts a unique spin on a treasured classic, and served as the inspiration for the exciting new line of Audible Signature Classics, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Elijah Wood, and Heart of Darkness with Kenneth Branagh. Tim Curry performs this timeless holiday story in a deliciously dark tone, returning it to its Dickensian roots with a vivid imagining of Victorian London and just the right touch of outrageous fun.
A Christmas Carol has constantly been in print since its original publication in 1849, and has been adapted for stage, television, film, and opera. It has often been credited with returning the jovial and festive atmosphere to the holiday season in Britain and North America, following the somber period that emerged during the Industrial Revolution.
The story opens on a bleak and cold Christmas Eve as Ebenezer Scrooge is closing up his office for the day. As the story progresses and Christmas morning approaches, Scrooge encounters the unforgettable characters that make this story a classic: Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and, of course, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Listen to more Audible Signature Classics now.
Public Domain(P)2009 Audible, Inc.


THE PLOT:

When I reviewed ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’, I pointed out that it was unlikely that I would write something that hadn’t been written before. This is even more true in the case of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. This is an iconic work of fiction and a go-to story every Christmas. It has been adapted for stage, film and television. There are straight adaptations, parodies and there have even been literal continuations of the story. So this is not exactly a story that has been under written about or under discussed.
The book is broken into five staves. The first stave introduces us to Scrooge, his nephew Fred and his clerk Bob Cratchit. These are the central figures in the story. The first stave also shows us Scrooge in his present condition. We see a Scrooge that loves money more than man. The poor around him, he feels, are not his problem.
Stave One also brings the ghost of Jacob Marley to Scrooge’s chambers. Marley shows us what Scrooge’s ultimate destiny is if he continues to walk his current path. Indeed, Marley tells Scrooge that the chain he carries has 7 more years worth of deeds attached.
Stave Two introduces us to the Ghost of Christmas Past. We see Scrooge as a young child and even a young man. We see him before he has turned to a love of money. Yet, through the conversation with Belle, we also see the beginnings of his transformation into the Scrooge we met in Stave One.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is the least frightening of the spirits that Scrooge encountered. This makes sense because the past is the least frightening aspect of our lives. This is because our past has already occurred and comes with the most certainty.
Stave Three is Scrooge’s encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Present. When Scrooge met the ghost of Christmas past and was shown events from his own past, there were moments where he felt some guilt. But, it is when Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present that he actually has a change of heart.
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge exactly how those closest to him feel about him. It allows him to see how little regard the Cratchit family has for him and the pity his nephew has for him. It also allows Scrooge to see how people with so much less than he can still find reasons to be joyous. It is Tiny Tim that is the catalyst for Scrooge’s change of heart.
The Ghost of Christmas Present lives and dies over the period of the day. This illustrates how the present only lasts for a moment before it is gone.
Stave Four is where Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. This is the most frightening of all the ghosts who visit Scrooge. This spirit represents the future which, for anyone, is the least certain part of their lives. Nobody knows what the future holds. Scrooge did get to see his future and it brought him to his knees.
Scrooge got to see the end result of his life on earth. He got to see in the reactions of others to his death what a life of selfishness would ultimately bring him. Where the transformation of Scrooge’s heart began with the Ghost of Christmas Present, the change took hold for good in his final encounter.
The last stave shows the outward evidence of Scrooge’s change of heart. It shows a redeemed Scrooge. It can be confidently assumed that Scrooge was able to shed the self-created chains in the way that Marley could not.
‘A Christmas Carol’ is a story of redemption. It tells us that our lives on earth are short but can be extended by the impression we leave on others. It says that even the most hardened of men and women are capable of undergoing a change of heart. It is this message which has allowed this story to endure for nearly 200 years.


THE AUTHOR:

Charles Dickens is the author of many works, and his ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is the best selling novel of all time. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is not a particularly long work, but there is a lot to be found within it. Dickens doesn’t waste any words in his description of Scrooge, the condition of his character or the extraordinary events which he encounters.
I guess it is not quite fair to say that he does not waste any words. There is a bit of repetitiveness in the text. After all, how many times can we be told that Jacob Marley is dead? Yet this is done to emphasize the wonder of his appearance as a ghost later in the story.


THE NARRATION:

Tim Curry is a veteran British actor of theater, film and television. Curry is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. I know him best as Long John Silver in ‘Muppet Treasure Island’ and as the voice of “George Herbert Walker ‘King’ Chicken” in the animated series ‘Duckman’.
Curry puts forth a spirited performance in ‘A Christmas Carol’. His reading of Scrooge is a little distracting because it sounds almost exactly like his portrayal of Chancellor Palpatine in ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ animated series. Otherwise it is well read, well acted and a quite enjoyable listen.


THE PRODUCTION:

This is a crystal clear track with no glitches to be found. There are chapter stops at each of the book’s five staves. There are no sound effects used anywhere on the track. However, the book does open with some ominous music that helps put you in the mood for what is to come.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

‘A Christmas Carol’ is a classic tale of repentance and redemption. This performance by Tim Curry has become a bit of a tradition for me. I read it last Christmas Eve, this Christmas Eve, and intend to read it every Christmas Eve yet to come.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens Tim Curry Audible Studios British Literature 12/01/2010 3 hours, 33 minutes 10/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘A Christmas Carol’ was purchased from audible for review.

Advertisements