"[Narrator Euan Morton's] British-accented narration is pure delight...This imaginative story is so charming that listeners will be convinced it is fact, not fiction. A heartwarming addition to the holiday audiobook collection." Booklist
Laced with humor, rich historical detail from Charles Dickens’ life, and clever winks to his work, Samantha Silva's Mr. Dickens and His Carol is an irresistible new take on a cherished classic.
Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. And a serious bout of writer’s block sets in.
Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love. The story he writes will change Christmas forever.
Full of holiday cheer and Victorian whimsy, Mr. Dickens and His Carol is the perfect audiobook to instill listeners with the Christmas spirit.
Praise for Mr. Dickens and His Carol:
"From his first words to his last, Euan Morton's narration is quintessentially Dickensian. This novel gives Morton the opportunity to voice all the personalities of the original CHRISTMAS CAROL from revelers to Scrooge, ghosts, and Tiny Tim and all are satisfying portrayals." AudioFile Magazine
“A charming, comic, and ultimately poignant story about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written. It’s as foggy and haunted and redemptive as the original; it’s all heart, and I read it in a couple of ebullient, Christmassy gulps.” Anthony Doerr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of All The Light We Cannot See
“[Silva] tunes herself to Dickens’s imaginative frequency…She inhabits Dickens’s sensitivity to London’s atmosphere, its chancellors and urchins, its cobblestones and fog.” The New York Times Book Review
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Samantha Silva is a writer and screenwriter based in Idaho. Mr. Dickens and His Carol is her debut novel.
Read an Excerpt
On that unseasonably warm November day at One Devonshire Terrace, Christmas was not in his head at all.
His cravat was loose, top button of his waistcoat undone, study windows flung open as far as they'd go. Chestnut curls bobbed over his dark slate eyes that brightened to each word he wrote: this one, no, that one, scribble and scratch, a raised brow, a tucked chin, a guffaw. Every expression was at the ready, every limb engaged in the urgent deed. Nothing else existed. Not hunger or thirst, not the thrumming of the household above and below — a wife about to give birth, five children already, four servants, two Newfoundlands, a Pomeranian, and the Master's Cat, now pawing at his quill. Not time, neither past nor future, just the clear-eyed now, and words spilling out of him faster than he could think them.
The exhilaration of his night walk had led him straight to his writing chair by first morning without even his haddock and toast. He'd traversed twice the city in half his usual time, from Clerkenwell down Cheapside, across the Thames by way of Blackfriar's Bridge, and back by Waterloo, propelled by a singular vision — the throng of devoted readers that very afternoon pressing their noses against the window of Mudie's Booksellers, no doubt awaiting the new Chuzzlewit installment, with its flimsy green cover, thirty-three pages of letterpress, two illustrations, various advertisements, and the latest chapter of pure delight by the "Inimitable Boz" himself! Why, it was plain to him that humanity's chief concern, now that Martin Chuzzlewit had sailed for America, was the fate of Tom Pinch and the Pecksniffs, and he considered it his sacred duty to tell them.
And so Charles Dickens didn't hear the slap-bang of the door knocker downstairs that would alter the course of all his Christmases to come.
Like any man, he'd known a good share of knocks in his thirty-some years. Hard knocks at lesser doors, insistent rap-rap-raps on wind-bitten, rain-battered doors whose nails had lost all hope of holding. And with fame came gentler taps at better doors, pompous, pillared, and crowned thresholds in glazed indigo paint, like his own door two floors below, where the now-polite pounding was having no effect at all.
Because there are times in a man's life when no knock on any door will divert him from the thing at hand, in particular when that thing is a goose-feather pen flying across the page, spitting ink.
When the fusee table clock on his desk struck straight-up three, a smallish groom (as was the fashion) with fiery red hair (as wasn't the fashion at all) appeared at the study door with a tray of hot rolls, fancy bread, butter, and tea. Dickens dotted his final i, brandished his pages, and stood.
"Topping! I've just this moment finished the new number."
"Wot good news, sir."
Dickens took a roll and tore a bite out of it, his hunger returning. Everything — the whole house — seeped back into his awareness. Oh, glorious Devonshire Terrace, a house of great promise (at a great premium), undeniable situation, and excessive splendor. He was glad for the great garden outside, the clatter of crockery and clanging of tins in the kitchen downstairs, the chatter and play of his children somewhere above. And here was Topping right in front of him, vivid as ever, in his usual tie and clean shirtsleeves instead of a livery, with no sense of impropriety, and a kindly expression that asked what more he might do, because doing was what he liked best. He was the longest-lived of the household servants, and Dickens regarded him most like family of them all, something between the father he'd always wanted and the brother he wished his were.
"Oh, Topping." He leaned in, clutching his pages. "I believe I have once again ... stumbled upon perfection."
Topping squinched his eyes as a way of smiling without showing his teeth, which went in every direction except straight up and down. Dickens felt a great affection for him, for everyone, even the handsome house itself, which had subdued itself all day in the service of his art. He was sure he had Topping to thank for it.
A sustained holler from the bedroom upstairs announced Catherine Dickens in the full tilt of a labor of her own. The two men looked up and held their breath until it stopped. Dickens smiled with one corner of his mouth, wistful. Another child was nearly born, he knew, if stubbornly resisting its arrival into the world.
"I suppose it altogether too much to think Catherine would hear it now," he said with a playful frown.
Topping's caterpillar brows arched and fell in ironic agreement. "Well, sir. Masters Chapman and Hall are downstairs."
"Chapman and Hall, here?" Dickens returned the half-eaten roll to the tray and trusted his pages to Topping. He sprang for the mirror to quick-comb his hair, fasten his green velvet waistcoat, and fluff his blue satin cravat. "Apparently even my publishers cannot wait to know what happens next!" "They do sit a bit on the edge of their seats, sir."
"Splendid. I shall read it to them!"
Topping looked at the pages, curious. "May I ask, does Chuzzlewit's man
Tapley have, this month, a line or two?"
"Or three, or four." Dickens turned with a wink, retrieved the pages, and tapped them three times for luck. "I think it far and away my finest book."
Topping blinked in solidarity and stood aside. Dickens rounded the brass ball at the banister and skittered down the stairs by twos. He had that feeling of finishing that had always been for him like floating, air under his feet and lungs like full sails. It seemed wrong to be going down when he should be soaring instead, but down he went, pages tight under his arm, edges ruffling as if with their own excitement. He thought it only his due, Chapman and Hall at his door instead of him at theirs. And so, like an actor expecting an audience squeezed into the pit and overflowing the gallery, he bounded into the drawing room to greet them, only to find the publishing partners sitting stiffly in a pair of pink parlor chairs, looking like cold fried soles.
"Chapman! Hall!" Dickens offered his hand as the partners stood. "What a surprise."
"I hope not an unpleasant one," said Hall, with his fingertips-only handshake, limp as old lettuce.
"Certainly not." Dickens gave Chapman a warm double-hander. "Of course, normally you wouldn't be the first to hear it, but never mind that."
He stepped onto his favorite footstool and bowed theatrically, stirring the air with his pages. "Gentlemen, I give you the next installment of everything that matters."
"Charles," interrupted Hall. "We've come on a matter of grave importance."
Dickens peeked over his pages. Hall gripped his top hat with sharp white knuckles. Chapman mopped his beading brow.
"In fact, we drew straws," said Chapman, pulling a broom bristle from his pocket.
"His was the shorter one!" said Hall.
Dickens looked from one to the other, confused. "Yet here you both are."
A long loud shriek from above caused Hall to grimace and Chapman to sink. "But we've come at a bad time," said Hall.
"Nonsense. I think you'll find this new number strong to the very last word."
A string of sharp yelps from upstairs punctuated their discomfort. The visitors gazed at the ceiling in horror.
"Oh, that," said Dickens. "You mustn't worry. The louder it is, the nearer the end."
"The end?" Chapman pressed his kerchief to his lips.
"A child!" Dickens beamed.
Chapman and Hall looked at each other, grim. Dickens was used to the way they were — the obverse of each other in temperament and gesture, but ringers when they shared the same end. It had been Edward Chapman, short and excitable, who years before had stumbled on the notion that certain comic etchings about the exploits of Cockney sportsmen might be in want of a hack writer. But it was William Hall, tall and stern, who'd found the young Charles Dickens — court reporter, freelancer, would-be actor, and playwright — then hungry for recognition and income, in fact, any at all would do. Hall had a knack for computation.
"Charles. I'm afraid it's a matter of money."
Dickens lowered his pages and stepped off the stool. If it was a matter of money, it could be one thing only. "My father's been to you for a loan again, hasn't he?" Dickens started for the slant front desk by the window with a frustrated sigh. "I shall pay it at once, as always."
"It's not your father this time, Charles. It's Chuzzlewit."
Dickens turned, his face pinched with worry. Martin Chuzzlewit had become, like so many of his characters, as good as an old family friend. He watched the partners trade glances, grave indeed.
It's not selling one-fifth of Nickleby," said Chapman.
"Not one-fifteenth of Twist," added Hall.
"There must be some mistake."
"A few of the booksellers have been forced to sell at ... a discount," said Chapman in a whisper, knowing the word would pierce the author's heart.
"A discount?" Dickens flopped onto the gilt-wood settee, dangling an arm over the edge. He could swing like a pendulum, from hot to cold, light to dark. "It's the name. When the name isn't right ... I had so many others: Sweezleback, Chuzzletoe, Chubblewig —"
"The Americans do not like it," blurted Hall.
"America, the republic of my imagination?"
The partners nodded as if their jaws were wired together, like puppets.
"Where I have never shaken so many hands, been so feted and accosted for autographs, had orange peels and eggshells filched from my plate, locks of hair snipped from my head and fur from my coat?" "They now take you as a ... misanthrope," said Hall.
Dickens pulled himself to full height. "I? A misanthrope?"
"You've portrayed them as hypocrites, braggarts, bullies, and humbugs," said Chapman.
"Humbugs?" Dickens puffed his chest, indignant. "Bah!"
He drew back to wait for a retraction, or a reaction, at least. As his renown had grown, he'd learned that a small, tactical tantrum could work wonders. Not this time. The partners were unmoved, faces expressionless. Dickens put a palm to his forehead, feeling warm and dizzy. "Sales are definitely down, then?"
Hall nodded to Chapman, who patted his pockets and pulled out a thin velvet box. "But we've brought you a pen."
Dickens stared at the offering in Chapman's hand. He could not think of a quill in the world that would ease this terrible sting. "At least my own countrymen do not abandon me. Why, only yesterday I saw a crush of people at Mudie's —"
"Waiting for the new Thackeray, no doubt," said Hall, doubling the blow. He took a copy of The Times from the breast of his coat and read from above the fold. "Charles Dickens has risen like a rocket, but will sink ... like ... a ... rock."
Dickens snatched the paper and read it himself, twice to be sure. "Well! From now on I should simply ask my public what it is they'd like to read."
The partners seemed to admire the novelty of his thinking, but before they could say so —
"Should Little Nell live? Sikes not kill Nancy? Should Oliver want some less?"
"Charles," said Hall, retrieving the paper from Dickens' grasp, "we are simply suggesting perhaps the public needs a bit of a —"
"Christmas book!" said Chapman, unable to contain his zeal.
"A Christmas book? But I'm in the middle of Chuzzlewit. And Christmas is but weeks away!"
"Not a long book," said Hall. "A short book. Why, hardly a book at all."
"And we've organized a public reading of the book on Christmas Eve!" said Chapman.
"A public reading of the book I have not written?"
"We have every confidence you will," said Hall.
"And have brought you a pen," Chapman tried again, with a toady grin.
"We were thinking something festive," said Hall. "A bit Pickwickian, perhaps."
"And why not throw in a ghost for good measure?" Chapman knocked his chubby knuckles together. "The public adore spirits and goblins in a good winter's tale."
"A ghost?" Dickens spluttered. "I am not haunted by ghosts, but by the monsters of ignorance, poverty, want! Not useless phantoms that frighten people into ... inactivity. I do not abide such nonsense."
"Perhaps the ghost is wrong." Chapman tried the gift one last time. "Anyway, it is a pen."
Dickens took the velvet box and turned it in his hand. He shook his head and thrust it back, calm in his new resolve.
"Gentlemen. I will not write your Christmas book."
Hall cleared his throat and withdrew a contract from a second pocket. "I'm afraid there's the matter of a certain ... clause," he said, opening it with a flick of his wrist. "To the effect that in the unlikely event of the profits of Chuzzlewit being insufficient to repay the advances already made, your publishers might, after the tenth number, deduct from your pay —"
"Deduct from my pay?"
"Forty pounds sterling per month."
"But I alone have made you wealthy men! Such a loss will ruin me."
Hall handed him the contract, as another ear-puncturing yawl echoed through the house, shaking its walls.
"Chuzzlewit, Charles, will ruin us all."
When Catherine's labor stalled by evening, and the doctor advised there would be no baby before morning, Dickens knew he wasn't any use at all. Lying on the sofa did nothing to relieve his torment; a late trip to the larder for a cold lump of steak produced only indigestion and regret. He cleaned his nails and rearranged the furniture, but it didn't help. The house had gone maddeningly quiet. It couldn't contain his worry, and worry would do nothing to ease Catherine's confinement or Chuzzlewit's fate. Both now seemed fraught with danger. His brain flooded with the sort of fears night brings on: What if Catherine were lost to him, his children motherless, his work unable to save them from the maw of poverty, the poorhouse their only refuge? His nerves, one by one, prickled and popped under his skin. His legs, as they often did, twitched for elsewhere. With nothing left to do for it, he traded his writing slippers for a pair of seven-league boots and set out for his great palace of thinking — the city of London itself.
Vigorous night walks of some twenty miles were his own regular fix for a disordered mind that no amount of fighting with the bedsheets could defeat, the city's vivid restlessness in the dark a fitting mirror for his own. From his earliest writing days, all of London had been his loyal companion and cure-all, by day and night, even in the most unforgiving weather. The city forgave. A map of it was etched on his brain, its tangle of streets and squares, alleys and mews a true atlas of his own interior. The city had made him. It knew his sharp angles, the soft pits of his being. It was a magic lantern that illuminated everything he was and feared and wished would be true. It was his imagination — its spark, fuel, and flame. From the highest Inns of Court to the lowest crumbling slums, Dickens had found his writing here, filled his mental museum with all that he'd seen and smelled, heard and felt worth keeping. But he had also found himself.
His best friend, John Forster, liked to say that his famed perambulations about the city had become a sort of royal progress, with people of all classes tipping their hats as Dickens passed. He was ubiquitous. Everyone knew his conspicuous attire; next to Count d'Orsay, he was the best-dressed dandy in London, in high satin stock, shiny frock coat, velvet collar; an excess of white cuff and rings, his waistcoats the most boldly colored, his cravats the most brave. But it was his face, with its kind, searching eyes, variously reported in the press as chestnut brown, clear blue, not blue at all, glowing gray, gray-green, and glittering black, that drew people to him, and a smile that threw light in all directions.
Fashionable ladies stopped him in the street wanting to know, before anyone else, what plot turn was coming next. Cigar-smoking men in top hats and tails liked to think they had guessed. Omnibus drivers knew him by name; gin-shop illiterates, the piemen, even the beggars called out to "Boz" cheerfully, and got a coin in return. The men who smelled of drink, Forster told him, knew him no less than those who smelled of rank.
And now he had sunk like a rock. There was no escaping it. Even the gray marbled moon low in the sky taunted him from the moment he turned out of Devonshire Terrace, no matter how fast he walked, or how far. He had stood his ground with Chapman and Hall, that was one thing. Charles Dickens could not allow himself to be pushed about by mere publishers, who were reliably first at the trough when the trough was full. But around the next corner he was bound to them, too, their futures inextricably tied.
Excerpted from "Mr. Dickens and His Carol"
Copyright © 2017 Samantha Silva.
Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Great fictional version of how the story came to be written
Awesome read. Hats off to wonderful work by author, Ms. Silva. Great holiday seasonal book to be ENJOYed all year. Great plot, smooth like a warm cocoa with a touch of spice. Loved it.
Beautifully written and wonderfully entertaining...
*I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. A November warm day, Charles Dickens is lost in writing his next adventure for Chuzzlewit. However, his publishers show up. Chuzzlewit is not selling and they have an idea. They "suggest" Charles writes a short Christmas book. With a ghost. And it's scheduled to be read on Christmas Eve. Charles doesn't like the idea, but finds his family has become use to a style of living and he likes to make donations so in order to continue with life as they know it he'll have to write the Christmas book he doesn't want to write. His feeling of the book idea seeps through into his life and he'll have an eye opening season. I've never listened to Euan Morton until now. I found I enjoyed his proper sound and accent from the beginning. It fit for the time setting and people present in the book. I felt as though I was sitting, drawn to his voice, listening to him tell me a Christmas story. Euan also gets to voice parts of Christmas Carol at the end as well. So well done with all the voices. Euan has the tone that fits a Christmas story, perfectly. I adore Charles's interaction with his kids and wife. There is so much love there, and they have fun. But Charles always wants to give them everything, which helps drive home that his chapters for his current adventure isn't doing as well. This is what starts to drive a wedge between him and his family. As Charles lives his life, after learning he will lose money if he doesn't do the Christmas book, you see sparks of what influences A Christmas Carol. He tries to teach his children there is more to Christmas than toys, in a means to try to "cut back". It doesn't go well, but there is truth in his words and a hint of what will come in his book he'll ultimately end up writing. I understand Charles's worries over income. He's seeing how his family lives and his attempts to "cut back" are squashed at every try. Though, in his families defense, they didn't know what he was trying to do or why. So, he decides to write the Christmas book. Charles seems to struggle to find his own way through Christmas. He grows frustrated by the threat of losing income, and that his family has grown to love spending so much (they don't realize it). He tries to point out others and needs at this time of year, but it goes unnoticed or acknowledged. He wants his kids to see more in the holiday than what they get. Charles starts to lose his way and the feel of the holiday while frustrated with events around him. Charles goes looking for his muse to get through. This book is Charles living his own Christmas Carol, while crossing flashes of the story to come. Samantha has taken an old tale and sprinkled it into the life of the original creator, creating a new story of her own with links to the original story. There is also history drizzled in for our enjoyment. Samantha touched on emotions in me. There were a few places that I smiled, but she did have me tear up as well. It was toward the end and with Timothy, of course. But it was the moment that felt right, like Charles was starting to make that last turn to himself again and even feeling better about himself. Then, in the end, I did cry. Such a great moment to be brought to. This book felt true to the characters present and was a wonderful Christmas Carol rendition to highlight Charles Dickens. Wonderful story.
Extremely well-written novel imagining how the classic A Christmas Carol was created! It felt like the Dickens era in words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, characters, and dialogue!! Like being transported to another time -- and what a great job the author did. I highly recommend this Christmas story.
Charles Dickens is well-known in London. People greatly anticipate his next story, until his latest book all but flops. His publishers are concerned, and push him to write a Christmas story in just a matter of weeks. But with the holiday so close, a new baby, and children too young to grasp the idea of money troubles, Dickens is in no mood for a Christmas story. A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite stories. I try to read it every year. Dickens is also a favorite of mine. So, you can imagine how badly I wanted to enjoy this book. Sadly, I didn’t. I got just under page 60 before I stopped. It just wasn’t holding my interest. It was very slow-moving. His wife and kids were mildly irritating. And I just couldn’t imagine the rest of the story getting any better.
This was just lovely! I love Dickens at Christmas and absolutely love being there at the moment when an author wrote a classic novel. Real or not, it’s a possible explanation for how he came up with the ideas and managed to publish it so quickly and I was taken up with the magic of it all. Reading the author’s note at the end it seems that many events in the story are based on actual events, and are just embellished with others being changed more than some. It was just really cleverly put together and I felt we got a real insight into Dickens the man and the husband and indeed the father. The parts where Dickens had a conversation that later came back to him and flowed through the ink on to the paper and into the story were delightful and when he met the people on the street who would later become characters in his novel….aah I squealed with even more delight! How fiction and tre life can merge in such a way. It does explain how A Christmas Carol could have been written and why and that for me was a real treat. Lovely to ‘meet’ Thackeray as well! I have since seen “The Man who invented Christmas” and understand it’s nothing to do with this book but the book is much better and depicts the Dickens world in all its glory.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol Samantha Silva Audio edition-Narrated by Euan Morton Silva takes readers back in time on a delightful intimate journey side by side with one of the most beloved of authors as he creates perhaps one of the best loved Christmas stories ever told. She uses both dark and light narrative to tell how it might have all happened with characters that are likeable and believable and while readers will a time or two want to hit our star upside his head they will also have a hard time putting the story down. It’s touching and heartbreaking encompassing the times and it’s the perfect way to bring in this season of hope, joy and magic. Narration: The voice of Euan Morton gives the perfect Victorian touch and his vocal performance of all characters men, women and children plus his accents from high brow to cockney are flawless giving listeners a deeper appreciation of the story and making it hard to hit that stop button. SUMMARY: Charles Dickens usually loves Christmas, he’s the first one to support the many holiday charities and can’t wait to take his children shopping and celebrate the season with his annual Christmas party and this year he’s got even more to be thankful for with the imminent birth of his sixth child. But instead of being merry he’s worrying about his latest serial novel not selling and his publishers request that he write a new Christmas book for immediate publication in time for Christmas. Worse he’s finding that his usual talent for putting words on a page have deserted him and it’s anyone’s guess how he’s going to manage to complete this seemingly impossible task.
I just finished reading this Christmas treasure and loved it! It will warm your heart and fill you with Christmas cheer. It will make you appreciate the blessings in your life, cry a little, and smile a lot as you follow the simple yet profound story of the lovable Mr. Dickens and his beloved classic. The writing is beautiful and full of truth wrapped in warmth, kindness, and something akin to a hug. I will keep this on my bookshelf next to my tattered copy of A Christmas Carol to revisit year after year and in doing so I will treasure Christmas in my heart and keep it the whole year through.