This one was an impulse-buy for me. The cover caught my eye, it is about one of my favourite books of all time, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and at the time it was only 99p.
Mr Dickens and His Carol is a fictional account of how Charles Dickens was inspired to write his most famous book - and managed to invent Christmas - and the Christmas book - at the same time!
It is a month before Christmas and Dickens' most recent book, Martin Chuzzlewit, is a huge flop. His publishers are threatening to take their advance back if he doesn't produce a new book by Christmas - and they have already helpfully arranged for him to do a public reading of it on Christmas Eve! Dickens is thrown into a panic and promptly goes down with writer's block. His family have got used to the money his success has brought and fail to take seriously his hints that perhaps they ought to economise. His teenage sweetheart wants a reconciliation, bookshops and theatres are plagiarising his work, sometimes before it's even published; he feels everyone wants a little piece of him - sometimes literally!
Mr Dickens and His Carol has obviously been written by someone with a deep affection for Charles Dickens and a thorough knowledge of his work. It was fun to spot the references to his books and characters, and even if it is a work of fiction there are enough true stories woven into the story to make it completely believable. And Victorian London is horribly authentic.
I absolutely adored this story and would love to see it dramatised for TV or film. It somehow manages to be both funny and poignant; writers will 'get' the in-jokes; and I loved the way Dickens' life began to mirror the book he was writing. The perfect Christmas book, in fact!