Although I’ve only read A Christmas Carol maybe twice in book form, I have plenty of delightful memories with this heartwarming classic, from the school play in third grade to listening to Patrick Stewart’s one-man show recording. I’ve also enjoyed various film adaptations, over the years.
When I came across Saving Ebenezer, by S. Daniel Smith, I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis. The sweet novella takes place seven years after the conclusion of the Dickens classic and includes many of the original characters, but with a twist.
And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”Luke 23:43
While this verse isn’t specifically quoted, the event is referenced, in the novella, in a significant way.
S. Daniel Smith explores the question of the meaning of life, as Scrooge grapples with the feeling of meaninglessness, even after all of his acts of philanthropy. The author also includes an end note explaining that being a “good person” simply isn’t enough. It is clear that Jesus is the One who saves our souls.
I appreciate that, while the topic is broached in the context of mortality, the emphasis is not the fear of hell. The novella definitely discusses the afterlife, but it is also about finding meaning in this life.
What I Liked
It was such a cozy experience to step back into Scrooge’s world at Christmastime. I had a lot of fun reengaging with the familiar characters, but through a different story.
There were some clear nods to the original. For example, the novella begins with a line about someone who is definitively dead, which is the same way A Christmas Carol begins. There are also some lines, throughout, that are references to or rewording of sentences from the original. Smith also borrows some of the language (including English spellings) of the original. While it is definitely clear that Saving Ebenezer is written by a different author, there are definitely connecting threads between the two.
Thematically, S. Daniel Smith raises a very important point: doing “good” things isn’t enough to satisfy a person’s soul.
The cover is so pretty and imaginative, and really captures the feeling of the Scrooge saga.
I felt that the plotline was believable and, overall, consistent with the original.
Based on the synopsis, I had hoped to see Scrooge meet Jesus, in the sense of getting to know Him and fall in love with Him. For me, the book was a bit more intellectual, as in “Here are the facts of what Jesus did.” With that said, the book does point to the truth that we are all, ultimately, empty without Jesus. Upon reflection, I can also really see why the author wanted to emphasize what would come next for Scrooge, given that the whole “Marley and his shackles” thing is so important to the original.
Even so, the language used felt a bit “preachy” to me, by which I mean that it sounded more like I was reading a tract or sitting in church, rather than being introduced to the personal Jesus I know. While I very much enjoyed the story, it didn’t minister to me, in particular.
Recommended with discretion for fans of the classic who already know Jesus. I would not recommend the book as an evangelistic title for nonbelievers. However, this was definitely a delightful cozy and nostalgic read.