Catherine Doyle’s writing sparkles in a wonderful reworking of Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’. The Miracle on Ebenezer Street is a great big festive hug of a book that filled me with Christmas spirit.
Ever since the death of his wife on Christmas Eve three years ago, Hugo Bishop has had nothing to do with Christmas and has banned all festivities from the Bishop household. Hugo’s son George longs for the fond memories of past Christmases where love, happiness and colour filled the house. He is on a desperate search for the Christmas magic that left the family home on the night his mother died and a search for the father that he used to know - the one that loved to live and not the grey and sullen broken-shell of a man that now resides with him at 7 Ebenezer Street.
On a secret trip out to Winter Wonderland with his Nana Flo, George finds himself in Old Marley’s Curiosity Shop. Old Marley’s shop is a magical Christmas wonderland where the shelves are piled high with magical Christmas trinkets and crackers just begging to be popped. The shop is everything Christmas should be and George’s eyes are twinkling like the Christmas magic that he is surrounded by. In the shop, he finds a snow-globe that seems to show a winter scene that he recognises from a past Christmas. And this is where the magic (and just a little bit of mayhem) begins. With a shake of the snow-globe, George and his reluctant father are transported to various Christmases and visions of the past, present and future.
How many shakes of the snow-globe will it take to show his father what is important in life? Will there be enough magic in the snow-globe to change his father’s ways or is George doomed to a life without colour, without Christmas and without the father he so desperately wants back…
Catherine Doyle packs a lot into what is a relatively short read, I read it in an afternoon. She tells a magical Christmas story full of warmth and love and with the central characters dealing with the loss of a loved one. There are plenty of nods to the original work of Dickens in the form of street names, characters, a humbug sweet and the year 1843. Like a Christmas stocking, Doyle has filled The Miracle on Ebenezer Street with all the best bits of Christmas - roasting turkey, sprouts, crackers, snow, an adorable Elf on the Shelf named Tricksie, Randolph the purple reindeer and plenty of love, magic and Christmas cheer. The occasional illustrations that feature throughout are delightful.
Themes of grief and loss are central to the story. Hugo Bishop has struggled to move on after the death of his wife Greta and rather than grieve he has thrust himself into his work and has become a lonely and despondent figure. He has become isolated from his son and while the two live under the same roof, that is about all they do. They no longer connect like father and son, both living separate lives and plodding on after the death of Greta. Luckily, Nana Flo has moved in with them and she does her best to bring positivity and with a twinkle in her eye she is always on-hand to bring some cheer to George just when he needs it. Nana Flo is the shining light in George’s life and is the polar opposite to his father who is unaware of how his personal battle with the death of his wife is affecting his son.
The snow-globe provides George with the chance to show his father what Christmas should be and a chance to rekindle the relationship that they have lost. They are guided into the Christmases of past, present and future by a wonderful mix of characters, including an old relative from an oil painting, a lively elf and a rare purple reindeer with a clear dislike to old red-nosed Rudolph. The adventures that George and Hugo are taken on are a rollercoaster of emotions as they experience warm, heartfelt and fun moments to the sadder times that are sombre and filled with raw emotion.
After the year that has been 2020 we could all do with a bit of Old Marley’s Christmas magic and The Miracle on Ebenezer Street will leave readers feeling all warm and Christmassy. A book that I will be keeping on the shelf to read each year and one that I will look forward to curling up on the sofa with on a Christmas evening with a hot-chocolate and a candy-cane.
Recommended for 9+.
Sending warm Christmas wishes to the lovely peeps at Penguin Random House who I was kind enough to receive a copy of the book from via Netgalley.