The Chimes: A Novella, by Charles Dickens

Seven stars

Most people equate Charles Dickens and Christmas with his popular story, A Christmas Carol. However, in the years that followed its publication, Dickens penned another story about the holiday season and ghostly apparitions. This is that story, which I thought would be a good thing to try during the holiday season. Dickens pulls on the ghoul factor in this piece, which seeks to portray a deeper message for his readers, and which resonates, if you pardon the pun, quite well.

Toby “Trotty” Veck, is a working-class man who has become dispirited with his lowly caste in life. He feels that his family is poor, not only because they cannot gather enough money, but also his unworthiness of having anything special. This extends to a disbelief in the common person and Trotty finds himself ending another year in woe.

On New Year’s Eve, Trotty is visited by a number of spirits, speaking through the local church bell, who try to put things in perspective. Trotty is sure that all has befallen him because of a higher plan. The spirits wish to show him that it is the choices people make that push them in one direction or the other, something that Trotty will have to come to terms with if he is to enter the following year with any sense of hope. Buried throughout the story is a set of life lessons for the reader to enjoy, which Dickens makes clear will help formulate a happier person during the holiday season.

While I would not be telling the truth if I said that I enjoyed this novella as much as the classic holiday piece that Dickens made famous. That being said, I can see the themes woven into the narrative, which builds through four strong chapters. The narrative flows and takes the reason on many interesting journeys before presenting an epiphany for the reader to enjoy. Using the spirts once again Dickens shows how sometimes people need being from other realms to see what is before their own faces. Some wonderful writing and remarkable themes that many will likely want to synthesise at their own pace to see if they mean anything.

Kudos, Mr. Dickens, for a great piece to add to my holiday reading collection.