Mr. Dickens and His Carol is the debut novel by Samantha Silva. Silva, a self confessed Dickens devotee is an accomplished screenwriter. Over her career she's sold film projects to Paramount, Universal, New Line Cinema and TNT.
Silva carefully researched Charlie Dickens life and crafted this fictional account of the writing of A Christmas Carol interspersed with important facts about Dickens life and times.
Dickens was born into a middle class family. His father was a spendthrift who ended up in debtor’s prison when Dickens was about 11 or 12. Dickens was forced to leave school and become a child laborer to pay off his father’s debts. These hardships made Dickens an advocate for the poor who was especially concerned wit the plight of children.
By the end of 1842, Dickens had authored six successful novels and several short stories and essays. His next serialized work, Martin Chuzzlewit was selling poorly putting a financial strain on Dickens and his family. In addition, his publishers threatened to withhold some of his royalties to cover their losses.
Celebrating Christmas traditions had regained popularity in Victorian England. Christmas carols were back in fashion and indoor Christmas trees were the new craze. The timing was right for a heart warming Christmas novel and Dickens’ publishers felt he was the man for the job.
This is where Silva begins to weave her intricate tale about Dickens’ writing of A Christmas Carol. Silva incorporated Dickens’ habit of walking at night in the city for writing inspiration. We meet Dickens wife and children and learn about the British writing community and Dickens’ peers. We also meet his father and brother- who rely on Dickens’ generosity to cover their gambling debts and poor investments.
It’s beautifully written and deserves to be read this holiday season along with A Christmas Carol.
*Photo of Samantha Silva by Glenn Landberg and Book jacket image taken from her website, samanthasilverwriter.com.