The Life and Times of Bob Crachit

Written by Dixie Distler
Review by Teresa Devine

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.

Well recommended.