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Modern readers of Dickens A Christmas Carol are often inoculated to what a shocking piece of literature it was in its day. Familiarity has softened its blow to the public at large. This is not so with The Chimes.

The Chimes is the second of Dickenss Christmas Books. Written in 1844 it came a year after A Christmas Carol and a year before The Cricket on the Hearth. Not nearly as widely read as either its predecessor or its successor, The Chimes probably packs more of an emotional wallop than either story.

Set on a New Years Eve rather than on Christmas proper, The Chimes is a story about self-respect and the consequences of our choices. The main character, Trotty Veck is an inverse of sorts to A Christmas Carols Ebeneezer Scrooge. He is poor and thinks so little of himself that he threatens to destroy himself and his family. Only through supernatural intervention can things hope to be set right.

The Chimes is a tale that will--as the best of Dickensian melodrama does--grip you and wring your heart. One really gets the sense of what reading Dickens must have felt like to his contemporaries.

This is powerful stuff. Give it a try.

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