Why did you read it? -- This is the first book I have read in English. My mother tongue is French and, in 1947 I lived in Caen, Normandy where my father was the director of City Busses in Caen. We had lived through WWII and the battle, and were just readjusting to our apartment above the bus company. I had spent the last two years in boarding schools, from October 1944 at Saint Jeanne d'Arc in Bayeux, and from October 1945 at La Vierge Fidele in Douvres La Delivrande. In October 1946 I would be a boarder at FCJ Convent in Bruff, Limerick (in Ireland). That year a large number of Irish boarding school were inviting French and German children for one year in their convents.
I was goin to turn 13 years old on December 22, 1946 and most of the girls were gone home already. That day (a few days before my birthday), the Reverend Mother of the school had invited the few remaining girls to have tea with her in her private library.
"For the few remaining days before you leave for Christmas vacation in your host families, please choose a book to read from my library," she offered.
I had not a clue what to choose. Besides The Wind in the Willows, I had no knowledge of English book titles. Perusing along the shelves in the large library, I cam upon the word "Christmas" which, evidently meant something to me. I picked up the book and showed it to Reverend Mother who said Charles Dickens was difficult to read. But I hung on to my chosen book and id read it before my host family came to pick me up to go to Cobh (pronounce Cove) by train.
The edition I had taken from FCJ Convent library must have been editied for children. I remember well that the first words of the text were "Marley was dead. Dead as a door nail..." The edition from MCPL seems longer. But, all in all, this is why I read this book a t the age of almost 13. I guess now that I did finish it at the time. And I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in life in the XIXth century. The particular edition from MCPL (Penguin Classics) is very interesting because of the added texts. I did read most everything added in this edition and would recommend it to anyone who wished to know more about Dickens than one usually knows.
Note: I learned that STAVE (title for each chapter of A Christmas Carol) means STANZA which means to me that Dickens saw his story almost as a long poem. Interesting, makes me think and gives a window into his way of locking at this text. -- ML