Christmas is not Christmas without reading or watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Muppets version starring Michael Caine is traditionally watched on Christmas Eve by the whole family but other versions are watched too throughout the month. On 1st December, I take my illustrated version of the tale off my forever shelf for its annual read. This well-known story is perfect for Christmas with its cruel villain, lessons on love and redemption as well as its powerful festive imagery. So I jumped with glee when I was offered the chance to read the prequel Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol.
Title: Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol
Author: Vanessa Lafaye
Genre: Festive, general fiction
Release date: 1st Nov 2018
Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley
A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill
Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.
And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…
In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.
The beautiful red cover with gold lettering is attractive and oozes Christmas spirit. It was a joy to hold it in my hands adding to my excitement to reading it. I was concerned it would not live up to my expectations after all it is aspiring to be like to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but I did not need to have worried this book is a wonderful delight. It captures the soul of the original, the language and grittiness of Dickensian life. Her words provoke powerful, colourful imagery as the original did; I was immersed in the stench of poverty at times and in heaven with the aroma of fresh loose leaf tea in their chests. I could hear the swish of the women’s long skirts and would be happy to gaze in the toy shop window for hours. The characters are vivid and I could not help connect with the strong, smart and caring Miss Clara Belle Marley as she tells the story of her life with her protective brother, Jacob and her meeting with Ebeneezer Scrooge.
It is emotional, and I never expected I would hate another fictional villain as much as Scrooge but I do now.
Talented Rebecca Mascull completed the manuscript after Vanessa Lafaye’s death and it is a seamless blend of writing. Unless I had read the postscript, I would never have known. It was written after a conversation about the setting up of A Christmas Carol Appreciation Society. If it ever exists, I like many would love to join -please.
This small novella is on my forever shelf and will become part of my Christmas tradition to read every Advent along with the A Christmas Carol. It gives a warm feeling in my heart with its timeless magic. The only way it could be improved is a glorious illustrated version to be enjoyed and sit with my illustrated A Christmas Carol.
Thank you Harper Collins Publishers for my copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. I will treasure it.
If you are only reading one Christmas book read this. If I could, I would become a book fairy and bundle it in a festive bow and leave in unexpected places to spread the Christmas cheer.
Do you have a book you turn to every year? Let me know in the comments below.
Merry Christmas! Happy reading