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Book Review: Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett

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Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett is a fictional book which follows the life and afterlife of its title character. Many people will recognize Marley’s name from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Jacob T. Marley, son of loving parents, was the grandson of a heroic man who became a miser and miserable human being. When he meets Ebeneezer Scrooge he encourages him to also meet his high standard of business, but low standards for a human being.

On his death bed, realizing that his partner of 30 years only sees him as an entry in the ledger, he realizes his own doing. “What a wretched man …  Whatever in the world made him?” Marley ponders. “Whether it was seconds or minutes, Marley did not know, but he paused so completely he thought his heart had stopped beating. I did, were his own words that came to him. I did. I made Ebenezer Scrooge.”

Jacob T. Marley is a heartwarming tale which focuses on a small, yet relevant character from Dickens’ classic story. The line “Marley was dead to begin with” resonates with a lot of people and Mr. Bennett takes it one step further.

Dickens created Marley as the partner of one Ebenezer Scrooge. Marley came to warn Scrooge to straighten his errant ways before he will be judged in the after life.

Much like A Christmas Carol is the story of Scrooge’s redemption, Jacob T. Marley is the story of Marley’s redemption, but first we get a history of who was Jacob Marley and why was he chosen as narrator for Scrooge’s story.

Mr. Bennett does a decent job of writing in Dickensian style, evoking a classic feel for the book without being overly pompous. The story of Scrooge is being re-told from a fresh perspective, but still reminiscent enough to recall the original.

Dickens made Scrooge almost a caricature of a miser, a man so enthralled with profit that he forgets his humanity. Unfortunately we see more and more of this everyday. Sick-care CEOs who drop customers so they can make a profit (rescission: unmaking of a contract), fund managers stealing hard-earned retirement money (I know it’s legal, it’s still stealing), banks foreclosing on homes with no mortgages, real-estate agents working in cahoots with buyers, lawyers and banks out to screw over all those they are supposed to look out for, etc.
Worst, the Scrooges of the world are alive and well, better than ever, and making laws.

At times Jacob T. Marley felt a bit preachy. I know a Jewish guy is not the ideal audience, but heck, I love the Christmas season. If you liked A Christmas Carol or Christmas books in general you’d like this book as well.

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  • Dave

    Mr. Bennett, I finished your book this morning with tears in my eyes. Wonderful how you caught the essence of Dicken’s style and expanded on one of the best stories ever written. I played Marley in a local theater last year, and you captured every emotion I tried to portray, and added a beautiful happy ending I always hoped for. You made my Christmas bright, and your book will be on my gift giving list for next year.