Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Christmas Review: ‘Jacob T. Marley’ by R. William Bennett

“There are three realisations mankind can experience that might give them cause for change.  First, remorse for what is gone but might have been in the past.  Second, a shocking awareness of where they are in the present.  Finally, fear for what will be in the future, should their paths not change.  These three missions make up our cause”

It’s hard for a lot of us to imagine Christmas without some iteration of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, be it re-reading the novella itself or singing along to the jaunty Muppet adaptation. Any author readying themselves to stand alongside Dickens has to be brave. Fortunately, Bennett also happens to be up to the job and proves it in this re-telling of the old favourite.

The whole book is infused with the same sense of magic and mystery that haunts its predecessor.  Bennett adopts a style that is similar to Dickens’ tale but without feeling like a sham.  The writing was so fluid that it often felt like reading poetry.  At first, I was highlighting the passages that I loved and wanted to remember.  Then I realised that I was doing it so often that it was becoming ridiculous.  It didn’t take long for me to grasp that the everything was going to be noteworthy.

This is a story that feels familiar and follows the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Futrue but still manages to offer something new, filling in the blanks for those that always wondered what Jacob T. Marley was up to in the years between his death and the night he loomed before Scrooge with his face in the door knocker, why it was that he was the one to try to redeem Ebenezer’s soul and how close he came to losing the battle.  

Obviously we can’t know what Dickens was imagining but, because this is so well done, I’d like to think that this is it. As you can imagine, the book is filled with scenes and quotes that at any other time of the year would seem trite. Read at Christmas, however, against a backdrop of tinsel and well-wishing and they are just bewitching. I ‘closed’ the eBook wanting to call everybody I loved and make sure that they knew it, make a concerted effort to sprinkle Christmas spirit everywhere and be better. And isn’t that really what Christmas is about?

5 out of 5 stars, for finally making me feel festive!


“And to this day, when we find ourselves in the right place at the right time to assist a poor wayfarer on the path of life, a moment’s pause may recall the story of good old Scrooge and good old Marley, and our hearts may be softened, we may stop to listen, and we may even offer a hand of kindness to the one who just happens, by some circumstances, to cross our path”