Friday, December 21, 2012

ReviewMeTwice- The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford

As we've mentioned once or twice this week, this book is largely a biography on Dickens.  It mostly focuses on A Christmas Carol, so a lot of the things that Standiford talks about has to do in reference to A Christmas Carol, but that still includes a lot of biographical information.

To be honest, this book was extremely hard to become interested in.  And, even when it did become a little more fascinating, it wasn't spectacular.  Standiford really isn't very good at story telling with non-fiction.  Some authors are great at making non-fiction seem like fiction.  They tell you a story and so it's interesting.  Standiford doesn't really have that talent, so you get a lot of information at once, not all of it interesting.

Probably the biggest flaw about this book is that Standiford tells you a lot of things you don't really care about.  There's a ton of people that are hard to keep track of, and frankly, pretty inconsequential.  He also, at one point, spends almost an entire chapter just quoting reviews of A Christmas Carol.  Considering almost all of them were positive, this gets ridiculously redundant, really quickly.

He also repeats himself a lot.  I mean, I understand that certain things let Dickens to his current situation, but there was so much repetitive material, I just didn't care when I reached something that was new information.

However, it wasn't all bad.  I really enjoyed knowing the effect other authors of the time had on Dickens' work and vice versa.  I also really like learning about, historically, where a lot of our Christmas traditions came from.  Not all of them came from Dickens' novel.  But it was interesting to see what traditions did correspond.

Overall, not the best biography.  At the end of the day, this post would probably be a better read.

My Bottom Line 2 out of 5

I agree with Cassy: this book was not interesting. We would have been better off reading the actual A Christmas Carol instead of this.

It was easy to be distracted from the "story" and I often was. It was easy to put down, and hard to pick back up again.

In writing the post for Monday, I realized that it really is difficult to sum up anything about Dickens' life, so I feel for Mr. Standiford; it's a really enormous undertaking to write a book about this man, his life, and his work. But I believe it could be - and probably has been - done better.

I also agree with Cassy that the parts about Christmas traditions were more interesting, but we have a book at our library that is essentially an encyclopedia of Christmas traditions that makes a more informative, more interesting read.

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