A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens first published by Chapman and Hall and first released on 19 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge's ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation after the supernatural visitations of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. The book was written and published at a time when Britain was experiencing a nostalgic interest in its forgotten Christmas traditions, and at the time when new customs such as the Christmas tree and greeting cards were being introduced. Dickens' sources for the tale appear to be many and varied but are principally the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and the Christmas stories of Washington Irving. The tale was pirated immediately, was adapted several times to the stage, and has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of merriment and festivity in Britain and America after a period of sobriety and somberness. A Christmas Carol remains popular, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, opera, and other media.
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There are so many wonderful recordings of this wonderful book - how could you possibly pick one over another? Simon Vance is one of the most reliable narrators in the business, and he delivers the goods here as well. His voices form a miniature orchestra, taking us through the story with speed and clarity. I often pick up details in one of Vance's narrations that I missed in reading the book or listening to other readers. Here it was an emphasis on the smells of London that I hadn't noticed before; and my mouth watered at the descriptions of the food. I loved it.
I'm so glad I chose this version of "A Christmas Carol" to listen to over the holidays. Simon Vance does an impressive job of making each of the characters distinct and easy to recognize, without overly dramatizing the reading. Even though I've previously read the story, and we've all seen countless film versions, I found this unabridged reading to be quite satisfying and entertaining to listen to! I know it’s one I’ll listen to over and over again…at any time of year.
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