The Chimes by Charles Dickens

Synopsis from Amazon.com:

The second of Dickens’ Christmas Books, The Chimes recounts the tale of a poor day laborer, Toby Veck. Like Scrooge, Toby is guided by a specter through the scenes that refocus his views of Victorian London with all its “stern realities.”

This is not as well known as A Christmas Carol, and not as popular either back when Dickens was writing. I can see why, and actually I preferred A Christmas Carol too – however, that is not to say this is a bad book. It is not by far. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It is another short story, one which I read in a day. In this story we meet Toby Veck. For the first half of the book he is looking for work and listening to those in wealth speak and seeing just a glimpse of their life. In the second half, he sleep walks up to the Great Bells, where their chiming guides him through a life where is dead and has left his daughter Meg to struggle through.

This book would act as a good historical source because Dickens is not scared to write London as the poor see it. He is explicit in the hardships he portrays – things such as death, drunkenness and of course, poverty. It was heart wrenching to read of these horrendous lifestyles, but that was how it was in Victorian London if you were on the lower end of the wealth spectrum.

Dickens writes in a magnificent way. He is descriptive and captivating. The words flew off the page at me and I was sucked in to what he was writing. I was gripped. I did think that Dickens spent too long on the introduction of Toby’s life however.

He writes lovely characters too. I loved Toby. He was an old man struggling for work, and when he saw the hardships Meg had to endure his heart broke – and I really felt his anguish. And I loved Meg. She was bubbly and caring – and their relationship was very loving.

Although not as famous as A Christmas Carol, this is a very enjoyable Dickens novel. It is short, fast-paced and gripping.

8/10

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