Dixie Distler takes readers to the coal mines of Bristol and twisting streets of London with her work, The Life and Times of Bob Cratchit: A background story to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Although Bob Cratchit is arguably a key component to Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas transformation, so far Bob’s story has remained in the background. Until now.
Growing up in poverty and hardship as the son of a coal miner, young Robert Cratchit learns important lessons from his father and implements them in his personal journey as he becomes the man so many know and love in A Christmas Carol. When disaster strikes and Bob’s family is forced to move to London, further hardship leaves the young man in the employ of Scrooge and Marley. Although burdened by setbacks and tragedy, Bob never allows that to define him, as equally crushing and inspiring situations dot his life.
“The ripples you create return to you in waves.”
The reader who will likely most enjoy this novel is who already knows and loves the story of Scrooge and always hoped there was more to the story, or the reader looking for more insights into the background of Bob Cratchit himself. This book is adequately descriptive and seems to stick pretty faithfully to the details set out by Dickens, at least as far as this reviewer is aware. The author is good at getting and keeping the reader’s attention, especially if the reader already knows and loves these characters. It can wax into the sentimental at times, but that seems more owing to the material than anything else. It’s hard to write a heartwarming story without being at least a little overly sentimental. Overall this is a satisfying read that gives deeper insight into the character of Bob Cratchit, and helps give readers who already love A Christmas Carol another story to enjoy.
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