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If I were you, I'd go straight to the Christmas anthologies - Somebody's Luggage and the two Mrs Lirriper books are much better if you can get hold of them.
Of the single stories, I reckon The Chimes: A Goblin Story* is the best after A Christmas Carol
* Usually, just called The Chimes, but I can't get the touchstones to work if I call it that
Thanks for the recommendations of Somebody's Luggage and Mrs Lirriper, I will look out for those.
Anyone curious about The Chimes can listen to it on BBC7 at
unlike the TV programmes, this can be heard from abroad and it makes a pretty good job of a failed story.
The centre picture here is from the original 1843 edition, and it's by John Leach. All very nice, but the way it's splatted on the cover with the writing pushed to the edges and then a few other pics along the bottom is all a bit of a designer's nightmare. It looks like a teenager put it together using MS Word. However, the book as a whole is really lovely. Lots of colour illustrations, and good quality paper.
Why I Read This Now: I'm a longtime Alastair Sim "Christmas Carol" purist, but this year I've seen a wide array of different versions and thought it was time for a reread and refresher.
Comments: I don't think a description of the story is necessary, so I will jump right into my observations. A Christmas Carol was my first Dickens, and I've read five others since. I think this is an excellent introduction to Dickens for those who are daunted by his reputation. I don't, however, think it's anywhere in the same league as Bleak House. Still, it's a story I really enjoy, and it takes me a while to get tired of it. It's one of my favourite Christmas tropes.
As for the Whole Story edition, it was a pleasure to read. It has a wide variety of colour illustrations on every page. The annotations didn't explain the text that much, but instead explained things about the world of the novel. For example, I learned that:
"The abundant feasts in Dickens's novels are probably a reaction to his childhood poverty, but also reflect a Victorian preoccupation with food. Except for the better-off classes, there was a chronic food shortage in the mid-century, and what food there was, especially in the cities, was often unwholesome. A variety of chemicals such as alum, strychnine, copper, lead, ferric ferrocynide, and sulphate of iron was added to food in order to stretch it out, for esthetic purposes, or to act as preservatives. Many of these chemicals were harmful, hallucinogenic, or even poisonous."