Who hasn't wondered what happened to Ebenezer Scrooge after the Christmas of his Reclamation? Though Dickens gives us the slightest glimpse by telling us he was as good as his word, I know I've wanted to know just what occurred. Did he never lose his temper again? Did his business thrive? With this novel, Scrooge: The Year After, author Judy La Salle fills in the blanks rather well while staying true to the era and the themes of the original.
I purposely chose to read this novel at Christmas because, well...it's originally a Christmas tale. This novel is set in November/December of 1844, the year after Marley's nocturnal visit and that of his three ghostly friends. To all accounts, Scrooge has been doing precisely what he said he would: giving to the poor, making friends, and keeping Christmas in his heart all the days. He has gone into business with his nephew, Fred, and is enjoying life. Until, that is, his business is broken into, and then a lady friend begins questioning the death of Scrooge's sister, Fan, twenty years prior. Scrooge becomes determined to find out what really happened when Fan passed, and delves into old letters and interviews with those who were there (which Scrooge, of course, was not, already having succumbed to the lure of the dollar). This marks the time when Scrooge becomes an amateur sleuth, equally afraid of knowing and not knowing the dark details of the loss of his sister.
La Salle does a remarkable job of staying true to the era and the language of the original A Christmas Carol. I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly, but Scrooge as detective wasn't what I thought it would be. However, the story is so well written that I found myself caught up in the drama of Fan's death and wanting Scrooge to learn more quickly what occurred. I cheered him on with every revelation, wanting him to stay true to his new nature and find success in all areas of his life. There is a side bit of a long ago gamble that doesn't really add much to the overall story, but it does provide a bit of a red herring for Scrooge as he seeks the answers he needs.
This is a very enjoyable novel, and I'm pleased that La Salle helped answer a few questions I had as well as drawing me into the times so fully. I wonder if there's a possibility of more of Scrooge's tale? I know I'd love to see what happens between he and Mrs. Langstone! Full of depth and intrigue, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this What If story.