December 19, 2011
Review of "The Cricket on the Hearth"
This is the third and final Dickens Christmas Book that I read this Christmas season, which means I have finished the Christmas Spirit Challenge! Hurray! Yes, well, I'll try to compose myself now and write a dignified review of the book.
Those of you who have read my reviews of A Christmas Carol and The Chimes know that Mr. Dickens' Christmas works are kind of a mixed bag, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The stars of our show are a married couple who are a sort of May-December romance. They are not wealthy, but they have a cozy home, they are very kind, and they have the obligatory adorable baby, and a daft teenaged nursemaid who is definitely the comic relief. Naturally, the plot develops around the much ado about nothing that always threatens such blissful domestic tranquility in these tales. Having finally read this, I understand much better the origin of many Christmas cliches, especially the character of the villainous toymaker. I don't know if that one was already old news in Dickens' time, or if we got that strange archetype from him, but either way, his version is pretty entertaining.
Unlike the other two Christmas Books, the supernatural element, though definitely present, is not quite as strong in this one. Let's just say that of the three, this is the only one in which the "miraculous" elements could easily have just been the good agency of the hero's own mind. With a surprise ending that I think must have inspired O'Henry, The Cricket on the Hearth is a sweet enjoyable read that ends on an unexpectedly fun note.