Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull #BookReview

About this 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.

My review…

This is such a beautifully written, poignant novella based around the story of A Christmas Carol, but it has taken a few characters from that story and created a prequel that throws light onto how Jacob Marley came to appear to Scrooge as a ghostly figure. It goes back to when Jacob and his little sister Clara have a change of fortune as young children and how that affects the lives they make for themselves as they head towards adulthood. As Jacob becomes more and more obsessed with making money, he shuts off emotionally from all around him. Will Clara manage to save his soul with her sisterly love and help to unfreeze his frozen heart?

These characters, both old and new, were delightfully charming especially Clara who had an almost ethereal quality. I found myself very quickly engrossed in her story, one that I’m sure Dickens himself would have had problems tearing himself away from! The historical detailing was intricate throughout and the depth of emotion evoked from the storyline was overwhelming at times. I think knowing that this was the last work written by the late Vanessa Lafaye meant that I wanted to slowly absorb every single word she had crafted but I still sat and read the whole book in a couple of hours. Rebecca Mascull took on the heartbreaking task of finishing off her friends book and has to be congratulated on doing such a wonderful job of keeping to the spirit intended and completing this sublime story.

Miss Marley is the perfect antidote to our modern day, fast paced and stressful festive build up and I would definitely advice setting some time aside this Christmas to be able to devote your whole attention to its bewitching, elegantly stylish narrative. I adored it!

About the author…

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.


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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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