Another book in the series of reads for the festive season. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is the grand-daddy of all festive reads (except for the Biblical story itself of course), and much of the way in which we celebrate and think about Christmas today can be traced back to this novelette. Dickens published several festive stories, but A Christmas Carol is the one that particularly reflects Christmas, and has remained one of the most popular of all his works.
Like many of Dickens' stories it has a strong social conscience, and this is clearly evident here - perhaps more so than in the novels simply because it is such a short work. The story is simple - Ebenezer Scrooge, a miser with no thought for anyone but himself, is forced to re-evalute his own life when he is haunted by three Christmas spirits - the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. It's a simple but very clever tale combining the traditions of ghost stories at Christmas time, with an over-view of the festive season, and a tale of redemption - which cuts right to the heart of the true meaning of Christmas.
It's told with great humour, some sentimentality (although not as heavy-handed as Dickens can occasionally be), a great deal of warmth, and a cracking story-line that whizzes forward as quickly as the ghosts whirl Scrooge through time. It's become a bit of a tradition with me to re-read this on Christmas Eve, and it's a very appropriate book for the season. Fun, traditional, and with a heart of gold, you would, like Scrooge himself, have to have a spike of holly through your heart not to enjoy it.