Summary and book reviews of Marley by Jon Clinch

Marley

by Jon Clinch

Marley by Jon Clinch X
Marley by Jon Clinch
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2020, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Mark Anthony Ayling
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of the "marvel of a novel" (Entertainment Weekly) Finn comes a masterful reimagining of Charles Dickens's classic A Christmas Carol with this darkly entertaining and moving exploration of the twisted relationship between Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley.

Marley was dead, to begin with," Charles Dickens tells us at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. But in Jon Clinch's ingenious novel, Jacob Marley, business partner to Ebenezer Scrooge, is very much alive: a rapacious and cunning boy who grows up to be a forger, a scoundrel, and the man who will be both the making and the undoing of Scrooge.

They meet as youths in the gloomy confines of Professor Drabb's Academy for Boys, where Marley begins their twisted friendship by initiating the innocent Scrooge into the gentle art of extortion. Years later, in the dank heart of London, their shared ambition manifests itself in a fledgling shipping empire. Between Marley's genius for deception and Scrooge's brilliance with numbers, they amass a considerable fortune of dubious legality, all rooted in a pitiless commitment to the soon-to-be-outlawed slave trade.

As Marley toys with the affections of Scrooge's sister, Fan, Scrooge falls under the spell of Fan's best friend, Belle Fairchild. Now, for the first time, Scrooge and Marley find themselves at cross-purposes. With their business interests inextricably bound together and instincts for secrecy and greed bred in their very bones, the two men engage in a shadowy war of deception, false identities, forged documents, theft, and cold-blooded murder. Marley and Scrooge are destined to clash in an unforgettable reckoning that will echo into the future and set the stage for Marley's ghostly return.

Meticulously crafted and beguilingly told, Marley revisits and illuminates one of Charles Dickens's most cherished works to spellbinding effect.

Chapter One
One

Sunrise, but no sun.

The merchant ship Marie tied up at the Liverpool docks hours ago, beneath an overcast sufficient to obliterate the moon and the stars—and now that dawn has arrived conditions have not improved. The fog over the Mersey is so thick that a careless man might step off the pier and vanish forever, straight down.

But Jacob Marley is not a careless man.

The Marie belongs to him, every plank of her hull and every cable of her rigging and every thread of her sails. Every other plank and every other cable and every other thread, to be precise. The rest are the property of his business partner, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge could tell you exactly which plank and which cable and which thread, because that is how his peculiar and peculiarly focused mind works. Marley relies upon him for that. The two have been shackled together in business for exactly eight years now, although it seems like a thousand. They may as well have emerged together from the womb.

Scrooge ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Clinch expertly cultivates Marley's character, elaborating the origins of one of English literature's most famous misers with forensic precision. Like the best of Dickens, Marley works well as populist entertainment and layered social commentary...continued

Full Review (745 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Mark Anthony Ayling).

Media Reviews

New York Times
By some uncanny act of artistic appropriation, [Clinch] has, without imitating Dickens, entered into the phantasmagoric realm that is the great novelist’s quintessential territory...Clinch has done something remarkable in Marley, not merely offering a parergon to Dickens’s little masterpiece, imagining the soil out of which the action of A Christmas Carol grows, but creating a free-standing dystopian universe...Clinch’s Marley is one of the great farouche characters, at once frightening and dangerously attractive.

Washington Post
Haunting...strikingly original...nothing short of revelatory.

Publishers Weekly
The bait-and-switch ending—in which the author must sync his story with the one with which we are familiar—is the only flaw in an otherwise canny book. If A Christmas Carol tugs at the heartstrings, Clinch's novel deepens the story to eviscerate the whole heart.

Booklist
This smoothly written, insightful tale should prompt people to reread its inspiration with fresh eyes.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The tight-fisted Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghost of Jacob Marley come vividly to life in an assured reimagining of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol...An adroit, sharply drawn portrayal of Dickens' indelible characters.

Library Journal (starred review)
A gift for fans of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol.

Author Blurb Charles Frazier, New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain and Varina
It's one thing to come up with a brilliant premise, but it's another thing to know what to do with it, how to realize its potential. As he did with Finn, Jon Clinch digs down to the bones of a classic and creates must-read modern literature.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy
Jon Clinch is a brilliant stylist, effortlessly capturing Dickensian locales and characters with a precision that is both evocative and a joy...Read through to the last page of this brilliant book, and I promise you that you will have a permanently changed view, not just of Dickens's world, but of the world we live in today...Delightful, disturbing, and deeply profound.

Author Blurb Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife and The Dying of the Light
In Marley, again Jon Clinch shows his genius, taking Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and turning it inside out, revealing its contemporary wonder, making the characters and actions of both Scrooge and Marley entirely modern, without losing a beat of Dickens' Victorian music. Here is a favorite wrapped in brand new paper, to unwrap with delight and everlasting, compassionate and charming music all its own.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

A Brief History of A Christmas Carol and its Adaptations

Marley's GhostA Christmas Carol, the first and best known of Charles Dickens' five Christmas Books, was published on December 19th, 1843. On publication, it was considered a critical and commercial success and served to bolster Dickens' reputation among his peers and the public at a time of creative and financial uncertainty.

The book drew on the Victorians' renewed interest in the Christmas holiday and their burgeoning interest in the ghost story, a genre that exploded into English cultural consciousness during the Victorian Era, experiencing widespread popularity in both short and long form. This rise in interest would continue into the early 20th century with prolific horror authors like M.R. James flying the flag.

Dickens, like many of his ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Jon Clinch

If you liked Marley, try these:

  • Circe jacket

    Circe

    by Madeline Miller

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More by this author

    Winner of the 2018 BookBrowse Fiction Award

    The daring, dazzling and highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Song of Achilles.

  • House of Names jacket

    House of Names

    by Colm Toibin

    Published 2018

    About this book

    More by this author

    From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm Tóibín comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestra - spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling - and her children.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    by Julietta Henderson
    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is the comedic debut novel of writer Julietta Henderson. It ...
  • Book Jacket: In Search of a Kingdom
    In Search of a Kingdom
    by Laurence Bergreen
    The Age of Exploration in the early modern period, lasting roughly from the 15th through 16th ...
  • Book Jacket: Under a White Sky
    Under a White Sky
    by Elizabeth Kolbert
    You can never go back home...so the saying goes. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Barbizon
    The Barbizon
    by Paulina Bren
    Esteemed historian and Vassar professor Paulina Bren brings the legendary Barbizon Hotel to life on ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Girl in His Shadow
by Audrey Blake
The story of one woman who believed in scientific medicine before the world believed in her.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Crossing the River
    by Carol Smith

    A powerful exploration of grief that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal.

  • Book Jacket

    Ariadne
    by Jennifer Saint

    A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Who Said...

I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now only that place where the books are ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S I T closet

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.