Writing about BookExpo America last week, I mentioned that one of the most interesting discoveries there (for me, anyway) was a small book called Jacob T. Marley. Written by R. William Bennett, the book tells the familiar story of Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" from the point of view of Jacob Marley.
If you have read "A Christmas Carol," you will remember Marley. He was originally Ebenezer Scrooge's business partner. It is Marley's ghost who comes to Scrooge in the night to warn him of his impending doom and to herald the forthcoming visits of three spirits. Those visits will lead to a new, and reformed, Scrooge, a Scrooge who keeps the spirit of Christmas and becomes a patron of charity for the poor. Scrooge is saved.
But who was Marley?
We are told very little about him. And that's where Bennett begins his book, telling us all about Marley and showing us how the reformation of Scrooge was accomplished - and why. We will get to see the events of "A Christmas Carol" through Marley's eyes and learn a good deal more about those ghostly visitors. No, it's not a mystery, strictly speaking - and yet it is written almost as a mystery, with some fascinating, mystery-like twists and turns in the story, as we try to determine the truth about what is happening, and why.
It is a lovely story, quite well told. Bennett doesn't try to write in the style of Dickens, but the incidents he describes could have come right out of the pages of any Dickens novel. If you enjoy "A Christmas Carol" - and, really, I suspect that is most of us - you will almost certainly enjoy "Jacob T. Marley." That "T," by the way, is quite significant. You will see why when you read the book.