I chose “Jacob T. Marley” because I was searching for festive cheer and the premise of the book sounded interesting. The publisher’s summary promised a story that:
“… focuses the spotlight on Scrooge’s miserly business partner, Jacob T. Marley, who was allowed to return as a ghost to warn Scrooge away from his ill-fated path. Why was Marley allowed to return? And why hadn t he been given the same chance as Ebenezer Scrooge? Or had he?
Written with a voice reminiscent of Dickens, Jacob T. Marley is to A Christmas Carol as the world-famous Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz as this masterfully crafted story teaches of choices, consequences, and of the power of accountability.”
I listened to the first two hours of this four-hour audiobook before abandoning it.
The idea, at least at the beginning, was as original as it sounded. The writing is well crafted and sounds suitably Victorian without lapsing into pastiche. The narration is first rate.
I abandoned the book, despite its strengths because I felt it was withering in the shadow cast by a “Christmas Carol”. Dickens’ novel has a light touch that delivers a unique blend of humour, pathos, horror and moral certitude. By comparison, this book feels weighed down by the need to honour its progenitor while generating something novel of its own.
To me, it seemed that after-life that Jacob T. Marley encounters was more firmly rooted in Christian myth than “A Christmas Carol” was. As I read “Jacob T. Marley” I realised that Dickens had painted a mostly pagan view of the Spirits of Christmas and that much of its joy and sense of possibility comes from not being held to account to Judeo/Christian Ledger of Atonement.
I’m sure many people will enjoy the four hours that they spend in Jacob T. Marley’s company but it wasn’t what I was looking for.