Mr. Timothy

Mr. Timothy

3.8 19
by Louis Bayard, Mark Honan
     
 

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Mr. Timothy Cratchit has just buried his father. He's also struggling to bury his past as a cripple and shed his financial ties to his benevolent "Uncle" Ebenezer by losing himself in the thick of London's underbelly. He boards at a brothel in exchange for teaching the mistress how to read and spends his nights dredging the Thames for dead bodies and the treasures in… See more details below

Overview

Mr. Timothy Cratchit has just buried his father. He's also struggling to bury his past as a cripple and shed his financial ties to his benevolent "Uncle" Ebenezer by losing himself in the thick of London's underbelly. He boards at a brothel in exchange for teaching the mistress how to read and spends his nights dredging the Thames for dead bodies and the treasures in their pockets.

Timothy's life takes a sharp turn when he discovers the bodies of two dead girls, each seared with the same cruel brand on the upper arm. The sight of their horror-struck faces compels Timothy to become the protector of another young girl, the enigmatic Philomela. Spurred on by the unwavering enthusiasm of a street-smart, fast-talking homeless boy who calls himself Colin the Melodious, Timothy soon finds that he's on the trail of something far worse - and far more dangerous - than an ordinary killer.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Bayard is daring to elaborate on a work that has become deeply embedded in our culture. Far from being cowed, though, he is confident enough to turn this story on its head. His Tiny Tim reveals that he was never really the angelic tot who piously hoped the sight of him in church would remind the able-bodied congregation ''who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.'' No, Tim tells us, noble sentiments like these were fabricated by his father, who then attributed them to Tim. Young Cratchit was actually an angry child who could hardly wait to escape his lower-class family, especially his father, by means of the fortune and education Scrooge provided him … Mr. Timothy, while in no way approaching the greatness of its source, is nevertheless an inventive and amusing turn on it. — Julie Gray
The Washington Post
Bayard creates several clever ligatures to Dickens's original text, but it would be wrong to consider Mr. Timothy a sequel; its intent is not to show how characters turned out but rather, at least in part, to meditate on the question of identity and loss, and redemption as well, drawing on A Christmas Carol for a few founding precepts. When it evokes the original, it's with a sly twist. — Art Winslow
Publishers Weekly
Bayard's first two novels (Fool's Errand; Endangered Species) were contemporary romantic comedies, a far cry from his third, an audacious and triumphant entertainment that imagines the post-Christmas Carol life of Tiny Tim, transformed from an iconic representation of innocent suffering ("the iron brace was bought by a salvager long ago, and the crutch went for kindling") into a fully realized young adult struggling to find his place in a cruel world. Having lost his parents and become estranged from his remaining family as well from as reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Timothy Cratchit has found a niche in a brothel as the tutor to its madam. Haunted by his failure to connect with his father, as well as by his father's ghost, Timothy has developed a thick skin to guard against the oppressive misery endemic to 1860s London. His defenses are penetrated when he encounters Philomela, a 10-year-old waif who has been mysteriously abused. With the assistance of a singing street urchin called Colin the Melodious and a maimed retired seafarer, he pursues the source of her torment and its connection with another child whose branded body was dumped in an obscure alley. The quest becomes more quixotic when evidence points to the aristocracy, abetted by a corrupt police force, but with Philomela taking an active role, the quartet narrow in on their target. With surprising but plausible twists, and a visceral, bawdy evocation of Victorian London, Bayard has crafted a page-turner of a thriller that is elevated beyond its genre by its endearingly flawed hero for whom nothing human is alien. (Nov.) Forecast: Like Charles Palliser's The Quincunx, this book will be embraced by Dickens devotees and many others as well. Riveting storytelling and the Christmas Carol connection could make it a holiday hit. Five-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Mr. Timothy is Tiny Tim Cratchit, all grown up and not too much the worse for wear save for a pronounced limp from his childhood disability. This spin-off reveals what happens after Ebenezer Scrooge reforms at the end of A Christmas Carol and the curtain goes down on the Cratchit family in improved circumstances. It is now Christmas in 1860, and Timothy, bedeviled by his father's ghost, has temporarily taken up residence in a brothel, where he earns his room and board by giving reading lessons to the proprietress. The Dickensian cast of characters includes Colin the Melodious, as artful a dodger as ever was, and Philomela, a young damsel in distress whom Timothy sets out to rescue from a pedophile ring run by a titled villain and his slash-happy henchman. If you have not had your fill of ghost-ridden heroes, needy orphans, and foggy nights in cobblestone streets, this sequel-with its breakneck plot, colorful characters, and the reappearance of Scrooge and the Cratchits-will fill the bill. This Christmas Carol for the new millennium is highly recommended.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tiny Tim has grown up in this uneven effort: an intriguing reexamination of Dickens's beloved waif, saddled with a not altogether successful thriller, � la The Alienist. It's nearing Christmas in 1860s London and Tim Cratchit, now in his 20s, is reconsidering his life, irrevocably altered by that fateful, famous Christmas Day so many years ago. After his conversion to goodness, Ebenezer Scrooge took on the Cratchit family as his personal penance, particularly the angelic Tiny Tim. Tim was sent to doctors to fix his legs, tutored to fix his mind, and, by 20, he's a right little gentleman, though with few prospects and even less money (in an amusing turn, Scrooge, who's given most of his money away in philanthropy, now devotes his time to his collection of fungi). Strapped for cash, Tim takes a job as tutor in exchange for room and board, but his pupil is a middle-aged madame and his new home a brothel. Bayard's success is in questioning the original narrative of The Christmas Carol: it seems Tiny Tim never uttered all the selfless prattle attributed to him, it was father Bob Cratchit who fed the lines, trying to make something extraordinary out of his crippled boy. Into this father-son drama (though Bob is dead, Tim sees his ghost everywhere) comes the plot of a child slave-ring. Tim stumbles on a secret society with royal connections, though this society imports ten-year-old girls, brands them with Lord Griffyn's sign, and then offers them to upper-class pedophiles. With the help of young Colin, a street urchin who would have done Fagin proud, Tim tries to rescue Philomela, an Italian girl who has already once escaped the clutches of Lord Griffyn. Like Dickens, Bayard exposes the povertyand casual exploitation of children in that most self-serious of eras, and if he's a bit more explicit, well, this is the 21st century after all. Bayard is less successful in turning this clever literary novel into a bait-and-chase thriller-the climactic rescue comprises a full third of the narrative-and it is mighty hard work keeping the chase lively for so long. Still, a clever premise and smartly detailed prose manage to offset the disappointment of this tale's forced excitement.
People (four-star review)
“[A] dazzling blend of literary fiction and white-knuckle thriller.”
Denver Post
"A divinely crafted novel."
Booklist
"A first-rate entertainment."
Entertainment Weekly
"There isn’t one throwaway sentence in this fabulous Victorian mystery ...a subtle character examination and a page-turning plot."
Washington Post
"Clever…sly…wonderful."
New York Times Book Review
"Inventive and amusing."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"This mix of thriller and literature is as rich as a Christmas cake…a spirited adventure. "
People
“[A] dazzling blend of literary fiction and white-knuckle thriller.”
(four-star review) - People Magazine
"[A] dazzling blend of literary fiction and white-knuckle thriller."
Sena Jeter Naslund
"The voice and intelligence behind the book are a real marvel."
Gary Krist
"...all of the moral passion of a Dickens novel but none of the quaint sentimentality."
Kevin Baker
"Mr. Timothy is a spirited and absorbing thriller and Louis Bayard is a very talented writer."
Sarah Smith
"...a satisfying, gruesome thriller and a moving meditation on fathers, sons, and the making of a family."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780792731061
Publisher:
Sound Library
Publication date:
12/28/2003
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
11

What People are saying about this

Gary Krist
“...all of the moral passion of a Dickens novel but none of the quaint sentimentality.”
Sena Jeter Naslund
“The voice and intelligence behind the book are a real marvel.”
Sarah Smith
“...a satisfying, gruesome thriller and a moving meditation on fathers, sons, and the making of a family.”
Kevin Baker
“Mr. Timothy is a spirited and absorbing thriller and Louis Bayard is a very talented writer.”

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