Christmas Carol by Ruth Gogoll

Michaela Wittling is as cold-hearted a bitch as you can ever have the misfortune to meet. She is so close-fisted that she does not even allow more than the most essential light to be used by her employees, two of which are Ramona Benckhoff and Evelyn Majakowski, accountant and secretary, respectively.

However, the night before Christmas, she is visited by three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas yet to Be.

Ms. Gogoll gives us a modern day version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with Michaela “Scrooge” and Ramona/Evelyn “Cratchit”. She does not follow Dickens’ somewhat formal structure (the five staves), and she abbreviates the first four staves, expanding on the fifth.

It is a joy to behold how many little details from the original tale get seamlessly interwoven into the story as it unfolds. Even the prank of pretending that Martha Cratchit will not attend this year’s family gathering can be found.

It is not giving too much away to say that a redeemed Michaela makes amends for her cold-heartedness, most notably with regards to Ramona. This “Stave 5 — The End of It”, in which Dickens rather briefly sums up the changes in Scrooge’s soul, takes up about half of Ms. Gogoll’s novel. It turns into a beautiful lesbian romance and comes to its conclusion on Christmas the following year. No spoilers will be given about this part, though.

It’s been said, “Forget Dickens!”, but that seems a bit too much. Both stories were written in different times and for different audiences. However, Ms. Gogoll’s rendering of the plot is a very welcome addition, well worth the time spent reading it. Don’t miss out on it!

Published by édition el!es (www.elles-books.com)

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