I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review for Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Rebecca Mascull. I was over the moon to be sent a copy by Joe Thomas HQ Stories. A wonderful cover for a wonderful book.
Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley
A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill
Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.
And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…
In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill, and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.
Have you ever wondered about Jacob Marley, how he became the ghost in A Christmas Carol? What did he do in life to deserve such a penance? I always have. So when the chance to read Miss Marley came along I jumped at it. Set as a prequel to A Christmas Carol, the author has invented a sister for Jacob, Miss Clara Belle Marley. Jacob’s story is told from her perspective.
As a reader I have always associated Christmas with Dickens, A Christmas Carol is one of those books that is synonymous with the festive season and has been the basis for many offshoots in the form of film, musical, and theatre. Miss Marley is a welcome addition and is the perfect book to accompany the Dickens classic. Dickens has some mighty big footsteps and I was a little wary as to how this book would fair. I have to say here and now it faired very well indeed and it complimented those footsteps completely for me.
From the outset I was transported and completely immersed into Dickensian London, slums, rough neighbourhoods, dank sewer lined streets and the notorious poverty. This was here I was introduced to two youngsters, Jacob and Clara. I followed them as they struggled to find food to eat, a roof and warmth to keep themselves healthy and safe. The story tells of a chance event that was to provide the start of a new life. A life that would see them rise from the gutters and to meet Ebenezer Scrooge.
There are a few references to A Christmas Carol and these were perfect for setting the scene, the feel and introducing characters that follow in Dickens book. By the time I had finished reading Miss Marley, I found my reading appetite definitely whetted and was eager to continue into the book we all know.
You may notice that there are two authors mentioned for this book, I wasn’t really aware of this until I got to the end and read the afterword. The first author is Vanessa Lafaye, she wrote the vast majority of this book. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer before it’s completion. Rebecca Mascull then took on the role of finishing the final few chapters. The friendship, discussions and the love these two authors shared for Dickens really does show and I had no idea where one author left off and the other picked up. It wasn’t until I read the afterword that I discovered this revelation. It was a seamless transition between the two and an ending that I believe Vanessa would approve of (in my opinion).
This is a novella that is an absolute must-read not only for fans of Dickens and A Christmas Carol but also for those that have not turned the pages of a Dickens before. It would be the perfect introduction to the style and feel of this great author. Everything about this book was absolutely perfect and spot on and it will be one that I will read again for the festive season years to come. This book gets an absolutely highly recommended from me.
About the Authors:
Vanessa Lafaye was born in Florida and studied in North Carolina. She moved to the UK in 1999 (having been deported once). She is the author of two previous novels, her first book Summertime, was chosen for Richard and Judy in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Award. Vanessa passed away in February 2018.
Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton. Visit her websites for more information: https://molliewalton.co.uk/ & https://rebeccamascull.co.uk/
She is currently hard at work on her next trilogy of historical fiction, with the first novel slated for publication in spring 2019 to be published by Bonnier Zaffre as The Ironbridge Saga. These will be published under the name of Mollie Walton and the first book in the series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE.
Her first novel THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.
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