Beyond A Christmas Carol

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Beyond A Christmas Carol

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dec 8, 2010, 10:35pm

Does anybody read the other Dickens Christmas books and stories? I think I'll give The Cricket on the Hearth a try this year. How about the rest of you?

dec 8, 2010, 10:56pm

Hmm, that sounds like a good idea.

Redigerat: dec 11, 2010, 5:38pm

To be honest, the other single Christmas stories aren't very good - IMHO, YMMV of course.

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

Redigerat: dec 12, 2010, 3:01pm

Thanks, AC. Since I hadn't done more than bookmark *Cricket* on the Kindle, I'll look for *Chimes* instead, or *Mrs. L*. I'm easy!

jan 2, 2011, 4:01pm

#3 That's interesting, I just read the other Dickens' Christmas books for the first time this Christmas and The Chimes was actually my least favourite of the lot. I thought The Haunted Man was the best after A Christmas Carol.

Thanks for the recommendations of Somebody's Luggage and Mrs Lirriper, I will look out for those.

jan 3, 2011, 5:53pm

#5 - sorry you didn't like The Chimes, I prefer it to The Haunted Man but it's all a matter of taste - and none of them are nearly as good as A Christmas Carol - but then, what is?

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.

jan 21, 2012, 1:04pm

I was also disappointed by the other Christmas stories. The Chimes was okay, but I couldn't finish any of the other three. Next Christmas I will try the other short stories mentioned above. I have an excellent collection of Dickens on my Kindle which includes all the novels, short stories, miscellaneous fiction and non-fiction, plus critical works by others, with illustrations.

Redigerat: jan 22, 2012, 1:43pm

I always recommend that people hunt out the Hesperus Press editions of the Christmas anthology. Every year when he was editor of magazines, Dickens produced a christmas antology of stories by himself and other people. The other people ones are a bit meh but you get the Dickens bits in context. I always recommend Somebody's Luggage - about a waiter in a hotel and Mrs Lirriper's Lodgings but nearly all of them have little gems in them.

jan 23, 2012, 3:16am

I loved The Chimes, but I have heard that The Haunted Man is the one that resembles A Christmas Carol the most. I'm saving that one for next year :)

jan 23, 2012, 8:06pm

If anyone is interested in Mrs Lirriper, BBC Radio4 Extra is broadcasting it in sections. Unlike the TV programmes, the Radio ones can be accessed simply from abroad. Episode 1 is at

dec 25, 2012, 3:43pm

I recently reread A Christmas Carol, using the Whole Story edition this time. Still the same story, but with lots of pictures, annotations, background info, etc. Here's what I wrote on my ClubRead thread about it:

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."

Strychnine. Yum!

mar 26, 2013, 3:13pm

I read Cricket on the Hearth at Christmas for the first time last December. I still prefer Christmas Carol, but it was an interesting read if only for the punctuation.