The Life and Times of Bob Crachit
Dixie Distler’s excellent pastiche novel fills in the backstory of Bob Cratchit, the virtuous, bullied clerk of Ebeneezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We follow Cratchit from his rural home to crowded, filthy Victorian London, and we watch as he gains a position at fifteen shillings a week in the firm of Scrooge & Marley and deals with his miserly, bad-tempered employers even while his happy family is growing.
Distler’s prose can be a bit flat at times, but her realization of the beloved fictional world Dickens created over a century ago is fascinating especially to take in Distler’s surprisingly nuanced creation of Jacob Marley, a slightly softer man than Scrooge but prone to nervous episodes that bring outbursts his savage temper (whereas Scrooge is far more even-keeled in his contempt for his fellow man).
The author’s affection for her source material is evident on every page; she re-creates a crowded, heartless London in which men like Scrooge and Marley seem almost unexceptional in their mean-spiritedness – all of which furthers serves to illuminate Bob Cratchit’s humble humanity. Distler has crafted a note-perfect companion volume to the well-known tale.