Isn't he cute? The little piggy bank just slays me! I almost got him, but . . . well, we've never had a ghost on the Christmas tree before, and the idea seemed a bit weird. Even though he's a Christmasy ghost.
It must be nice to turn 200 -- people start lining up to sing your praises! Today it's Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, author of Becoming Dickens, writing in the Telegraph about "the many faces of Charles Dickens."
Sunday Times writer Bryan Appleyard has a tribute to Dickens in today's paper that's well worth reading. Though one can't access his column without a subscription, he's kindly reprinted it on his own site.
Among other interesting things, Appleyard writes that for Dickens's birthday, a group led by theater director John Caird will gather at midnight at the Dickens family plot in Highgate Cemetery, for a series of readings. I've often thought it would be nice to be in England to celebrate Dickens's bicentennial, but that's not quite what I had in mind!
Two novels inspired by Dickens have been published in recent months. The Mould of Timeby Robin Dermond Horspool "is based on the original ending of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations." But it also "centres on the early life of Miss Havisham," who, as we know, did not feature in the original ending. (Or in the revised ending, for that matter.) So how that works, I haven't yet figured out. Then there's The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright, a novel for preteens that's set in a pub Dickens used to visit (and which he used in A Tale of Two Cities).
The Guardian's poll is now working, so you can go vote for the novel of your choice! This morning Great Expectations is in the lead with nearly one third of the votes, with Bleak House a distant second and David Copperfield in third.
The Guardian has decided to kick off its Dickens bicentennial celebration a little early! This article lists all the goodies that are about to come, including Dickens-themed podcasts, audio tours, excerpts from Claire Tomalin's new biography, and more.
And today, they have a lovely gallery of Dickens characters drawn by Chris Riddell. Go check it out! (Nina, they have Uriah Heep for you, and for Christy and me, there's a very nice Sydney Carton!) Clicking on any of the characters brings up a quote describing him or her. The print edition of the Sunday Observer -- I guess that's what the Guardian calls its Sunday issue -- will have "a large wall-friendly version" of this gallery, so I'm currently hunting for local shops that sell British papers. Already got a no from Barnes and Noble, but I'm checking out newsstands in the area. And there'll also be a contest where you can win five of the original watercolors of Riddell's new drawings.
The Guardian article concludes, "There'll be plenty more Dickens over the coming months. Do let us know what you'd like to see." That's a tantalizing question, but I have to say that I'm very happy with what I've already seen!
The Winds of Heavenby Monica Dickens. Originally published in 1955. Reprinted by Persephone Books, 2010.
Like Mariana, this is another novel by Dickens's great-grandaughter that was recently reissued by Persephone. It tells the story of the recently widowed Louise, who is shuttled back and forth between three self-centered adult daughters. All three of them care just enough about her to feel vaguely guilty about not really wanting her.
But Louise has a spirit of her own, and looks for every chance to break free from the unsettled life that she hates. She makes friends where she can, finding a kindred soul in a kindly bed salesman who writes pulp fiction on the side, though her daughters look down on him as "common." She nurtures a neglected granddaughter, and cares for anyone who will accept her help and friendship. And eventually she makes a surprising bid for independence.
With The Winds of Heaven, Monica Dickens wrote another novel that was rich in characterization and moral insight, and echoed her great-grandfather's concern for the helpless and downtrodden.