BOOK REVIEW: VANESSA LAFAYE – MISS MARLEY

I’m not usually a reader of Christmas books and books to do with Christmas. Other than A Christmas Carol, of course. But it’s something I wanted to do a lot more this year to get me into the festive spirit.

Which is why I just had to ask for a proof of this wonderful book, Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye who sadly passed away and the book was completed by her dear friend, Rebecca Mascull. So, what is the book all about? Here’s the blurb:

An enchanting, seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill, Miss Marley is the last book written by the late Vanessa Lafaye, lovingly completed by her friend Rebecca Mascull.

A prequel to A Christmas Carol, it tells the tragic story of the young Jacob Marley – how, through trying to protect his little sister Clara – he is set on a terrible path and is doomed to haunt the earth forever.

I just love A Christmas Carol. It is Christmas. I love reading the book, watching every single adaption of it… I always remember watching it as a kid on Christmas Day with my father and just being completely lost in that world. I even did it for a school play one year, with me playing the one and only The Grim Reaper. But when you think of Christmas, A Christmas Carol immediately comes to mind. It’s the greatest Christmas story ever told, by the one and only Dickens. Which is why this book interested me so much.

There have been countless adaptions of A Christmas Carol (even the muppets!), so where do you go with this classic tale? How do you make it new and fresh? How do you bring something new to the table? Well, I think this book does just that. This is a prequel to A Christmas Carol as Lafaye is interested in the character of Jacob Marley and how he became the man he does in A Christmas Carol. It’s a fascinating set-up and something that I never knew I wanted until I read this book. When I do think about it, Jacob Marley is a mysterious and ambiguous character, isn’t he? Which is why this book is brilliant. But Jacob Marley isn’t the main character in this book, it’s his little sister, Clara.

The writing in this book is exquisite. It really does feel like a warm hug on a cold Winter’s day. It’s so descriptive, lyrical and makes the perfect Christmas read. It’s so short, it’s a novella, but it’s not short on story, character and beautiful prose. Clara is a brilliant character and with it being such a short book, she is established and just bounces from the page. I love the way the relationship between Clara and Jacob is written. They have been through so much together, especially on the streets as children which established this strong relationship between them. Clara is also brilliant because A Christmas Carol is pretty much a male story and dominated by the men of that world. This gives women a voice that A Christmas Carol doesn’t and I think that’s a really big strong point for this book overall.

This book is full of heart, passion and kindness throughout. This doesn’t change anything about A Christmas Carol but honours it. It gives us another insight into this fascinating tale and the character of Jacob Marley. Clara is brilliantly written and I loved the relationship between her and her brother. It’s emotional, poignant and makes the perfect Christmas read. I think, with it being so small, it would make the perfect Christmas Eve read with a glass of mulled wine or a warm hot chocolate and some chocolate. Vanessa Lafaye has captured the true essence of this classic tale but has given it a new twist that’s enchanting, beautiful and full of Christmas warmth. It’s also beautifully completed by her dear friend Rebecca Muscall and I can’t see a stronger example of kindness than that.

A truly beautiful Christmas story. It’s out now, so why not explore the story of Miss Marley this Christmas?

A big thank you to Joe at HQ for my proof copy!

Thank you,

Corey.

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