Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Jacob T. Marley by William Bennett

Title: Jacob T. Marley
Author: William Bennett
Enjoyment Rating:
Source: Received a copy from the publisher
Books I've read this year: 150

It's been years since I've read or watched A Christmas Carol, but it's one of those stories that's been etched in my mind through repeated exposure during an impressionable time of my life. I don't think I'm unique in this experience, which is why telling the story from Jacob Marley's point of view is such a smart move on William Bennett's part. Much like Ahab's Wife or The Wide Sargasso Sea, Bennett chooses to focus on a relatively minor character in A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley, aka "the ghost with all the chains," and to see his role in the redemption of Scrooge.

The book spends a certain amount of time chronicling Marley's own downfall, then showing his role in Scrooge's transformation from decent guy to total jerk. But most of the book takes place after Marley's deathbed repentance, and his focus in the afterlife is to reach out to Scrooge and save him from the same fate.

While the book isn't overtly Mormon, there are some interesting things going on here in terms of the idea of eternal progression. Although Marely was undoubtedly a bad guy for most of his life, he still has an opportunity to make things right before the ultimate judgment. Bennett chooses to mimic the writing style of Dickens, which, for the most part, works well, although no proper Victorian would utter the word pregnant, would he? All in all, I think this book, because it's short and deals with characters most people are already familiar with, will be a popular gift book for people who won't be asking for The Marriage Bed or The Art of Fielding this Chirstmas season.

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