A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill
Before A Christmas Carol there was….Miss Marley.
Miss Marley is a beautifully bound book that was begun by Vanessa Lafaye and completed by her friend Rebecca Mascull. Vanessa Lafaye passed away earlier this year and, due to her illness, she was unable to complete this labour of love, this book that enabled her to express, in her own way, her love for Charles Dickens famous novel, A Christmas Carol.
Vanessa Lafaye was intrigued by Jacob Marley, the business partner of the infamous Scrooge and always wondered why he was destined to a drag chains around forever in the ghostly realm.
With the assistance of fellow author and her very close friend, Rebecca Mascull, Miss Marley was lovingly completed and was published in November by HQ Stories.
Read on for my thoughts…
About the Book:
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…
Purchase Link ~ Miss Marley
Miss Marley is a real treat for all, whether a Dickens fan or not. For many, Charles Dickens’ writing belongs to another time, another era and A Christmas Carol may not be a book to tempt all but, with Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye has created a very accessible tale. By creating a brand new character, that of Clara Belle Marley, Vanessa Lafaye felt that she wasn’t overstepping a mark with the true Dickens fan.
Miss Marley is an accompaniment to A Christmas Carol, giving the reader an imagined background to the life of Jacob Marley before he was confined to roaming the earth in a ghastly ghostly form. Miss Marley tells the tale of two young orphans, Jacob and Clara Belle. Following on from the very tragic death of both their parents, these two children were left homeless and penniless. After a very short time in the workhouse, they ran away, choosing life on the streets instead.
Times were very tough for them but Jacob was determined that he could make a life for himself and his sister. From the tender age of twelve he had the fortitude and the strength of character to strive above this level of poverty and fend for them both. He made Clara a promise every night that ‘Tomorrow will be better’, embedding in his mind that he could and would make a better life for them.
Miss Marley packs a punch in it’s 150 pages. Divided into three sections aptly titled, The Beginning,The Middle and The End, it takes the reader on a sweeping journey through the rise and fall of Jacob Marley. This insight into his background provides a wonderful backdrop for A Christmas Carol, as Vanessa Lafaye let her imagination take over, writing a captivating and delightful tale.
Vanessa Lafaye never got to write the last few chapters, but Rebecca Mascull picked up the story of Jacob Marley and completed Vanessa Lafaye’s work seamlessly and honourably.
Miss Marley is the perfect festive read. It is packed with charm and warmth and is really quite a treasure to behold.
I have such admiration for Rebecca Mascull for continuing the work of her friend. Her tribute to Vanessa Lafaye is a singular act of love and Rebecca expressed this love in the best way she could, by using her pen and her words.
For me Miss Marley captures the essence of Charles Dickens introducing his characters to a whole new readership but it also is a remarkable tribute to a woman who surely has left, and will continue to leave, her mark on the world.
May She Rest in Peace……
Vanessa LaFaye was an American born author living in England. A thirst for adventure brought her to Europe in 1987, first to France and then England. She spent many years in academic publishing, including the Oxford University Press.
She wrote two acclaimed historical novels set in Florida, Summertime published in 2015 followed by First Light.
Vanessa Lafey lost her battle with cancer in February 2018.
Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton.
She is currently hard at work on her next trilogy of historical fiction, with the first novel slated for publication in spring 2019 to be published by Bonnier Zaffre as The Ironbridge Saga.
Rebecca’s novels THE VISITORS (2014), SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) THE WILD AIR (2017) are all published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Twitter ~ @rebeccamascull
Website ~ rebeccamascull.co.uk