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Fiction

December 15, 1985|JOHN ESPEY

GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE! BEING AN IMAGINED SEQUEL TO 'A CHRISTMAS CAROL' by Andrew Angus Dalrymple (St. Martin's: $10.95). Well, dear reader, it is seven long years since Marley's Ghost melted the heart of Old Scrooge, and young Mr. Dickens, already something of a vulgar success (with his own carriage and pair and a taste for showy dress), wants to publish the moving story and to use the true names of the characters instead of "Algernon" (Bob Cratchit), "Flintlock" (Scrooge) and "Little Lame Joe" (Tiny Tim). In fact, Dickens' publishers, the Messrs. Chapman and Hall, have made this use of the real names a condition of acceptance and publication. There is little time to lose; for here we are already at Christmas Eve, and the canny tradesmen hope to take advantage of a readymade readership immediately following Boxing Day. I have written "seven long years" above because so much has happened since that earlier Christmas Day that time must have been lengthened. Not only has Scrooge reduced himself almost to poverty, the habit of giving having become an obsession, but Bob Cratchit has entered the upwardly mobile middle class and has visions of rising even higher. Tiny Tim is no longer a cripple but has grown into a teen-ager who is well on the way to having been expelled from all the best public schools. But not to worry. Mr. Dalrymple has his own solutions for all these problems, and they are no more implausible than those of his master's original. All in all, a suitably sugary candy cane to hang on the tree, or consume, or support oneself with through the coming season.

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