“Marley was dead, to begin with.”
So Charles Dickens tells us at the start of A Christmas Carol. But in Jon Clinch’s ingenious new novel, Jacob Marley is very much alive: a rapacious and cunning boy who grows up to become a forger, a scoundrel, and, in partnership with his childhood friend Ebenezer Scrooge, owner of a company whose profits derive from the soon-to-be-outlawed slave trade.
In this telling, Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge are two schemers in early-nineteenth-century London, unpleasant cogs in the engine of Empire. Jon Clinch puts an entirely new spin on the classic tale, making Scrooge and Marley business partners who become rivals, conspiring to destroy each other no matter the cost to anyone around them. In doing so, he makes the story his own, deepening our understanding of Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and the perilous situation in which Scrooge will find himself when Marley’s ghost appears before him.
Praise for Marley
“By some uncanny act of artistic appropriation, Clinch has, without imitating Dickens, entered into the phantasmagoric realm that is the great novelist’s quintessential territory . . . Startling and creative . . . Remarkable . . . Masterly.”
Simon Callow, The New York Times Book Review
“It’s one thing to come up with a brilliant premise, but it’s another thing to know what to do with it, how to realize its potential. As he did with Finn, Jon Clinch digs down to the bones of a classic and creates must-read modern literature.”
Charles Frazier, New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain
Clinch brilliantly captures the wit and irony of Dickens’s prose as he unfurls a tale of greed, cruelty, and passion . . . An adroit, sharply drawn portrayal of Dickens’s indelible characters.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)