The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge
“We could all use a little more Christmas in our day.”
With October temperatures nearing 70 degrees in parts of the world, it is hard to think about Christmas. That is, until you pick up a small, delightful little book, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge, which reminds us that in a world full of crisis and misery, we do need a bit of holiday spirit even when the calendar does not point to any particular day of celebration.
Charlie Lovett is a former antiquarian bookseller, a teacher, and playwright, and author of a New York Times bestseller The Bookman’s Tale. He is also clearly a man of deep passion and generosity who understands that readers today, surrounded as they are by bad news, might just need a drop of magic and fantasy to restore their faith in humankind.
Written in the voice and style of Charles Dickens, this “sequel” to the original tale of Scrooge, brings make the curmudgeon and the original cast of Christmas characters, 20 years after that fateful day when Ebenezer became imbued with holiday cheer and generosity. The book opens with a headline: “Scrooge was alive, to begin with. There could be no doubt whatever about that—alive and kicking.” And although it is clearly not Christmas, Scrooge is roaming the streets of London proclaiming that the frame of mind of Christmas must be kept alive. “Why should Christmas be the only time when men and women open their shut-up hearts freely and think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave?” Scrooge asks his skeptical nephew.
Like a perfect Part II of a good movie, Lovett re-introduces us to the Scrooge-like creditors and predators of 19th century society, to his employee Bob Cratchit, and, of course, to his old friend and former partner, Jacob Marley, as well as the ghosts of the past who are needed to persuade cynics that people can be good and worthy all year round. Each chapter introduces another pessimist unwilling to imagine a world where holiday spirit trumps the drudgery of daily life.
There was no Internet in the days of Dickens, and Lovett does not add technology to the busy lives of his characters—although there are subtle clues that “things” rather than people are overtaking life and interfering with daily pleasures. Missing in the dreary lives of the world of Dickens was free time. In this book, the characters are likewise consumed by the business of life. They are lacking quality time with families and friends. “I should prefer a playmate all the year round to the loveliest present at Christmas” remarks one young girl in the story.
It falls to Scrooge to let the characters realize that their days on Earth are numbered, and that once a year is not enough time for generosity and good will towards others. One by one, he allows the Spirits to invade reality with “shadows” that block out good memories and missed opportunities, especially for Cratchit, who is forced to see what has been lost in his life. “His descendants in their scores and hundreds understood the ways of wealth and money and even of philanthropy, but their hearts lacked the true wealth of love, of family, of Christmas joy, which, he now saw, might have been theirs all the year ’round.”
Scrooge becomes teacher and visionary. “Scrooge, who knew full well the terror that came from the vision of one’s own death—a vision of all the lost chances and wasted opportunities of a lifetime pressed upon a soul in a single moment—stepped forward to lay a hand on his partner’s shoulder and stooped to whisper into Cratchit’s ear, “All is not lost. These are but shadows; the child is but a babe. There is no need to see him only on Christmas Day.”
This little book is a reminder of what matters in life and that we could all use a little more Christmas in our day.