Mrs. Scrooge by Carol Ann Duffy

I realize it isn’t even Thanksgiving so perhaps I shouldn’t be reviewing Christmas books just yet.  But I thought I would offer a quick take on this slim volume now otherwise I would probably forget to write about it come Christmas.

Here is the publisher’s blurb for Mrs. Scrooge: A Christmas Poem by Carol Ann Duffy:

With her husband, Ebenezer, now “doornail dead,” the coldest Christmas Eve on record finds Mrs. Scrooge outside the supermarket, protesting consumerism and waste. “Spoilsport!” shout the passersby as they load up their shopping carts with Christmas goodies. Just as Ebenezer did, Mrs. Scrooge keeps to her frugal ways…but in the present economy, with loads of meaningless material goods bought on credit, maybe Mrs. Scrooge has the right idea.

That night, alone in her bed with Catchit the cat beside her, Mrs. Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. As each in succession takes her by the hand and sweeps through the scenes of her life, Mrs. Scrooge learns not only what the “Christmas Spirit” really means, but the nature of the real gifts we give and receive.

The author is most famous for being the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and perhaps it speaks to my literacy that I had not previously heard of her.

I would guess that you will enjoy this poem if when you think turkey you think animal cruelty and when you think North Pole you think of global warming and melting polar ice caps. If you think the commercialism of the holidays are tied to the inherent greed of capitalism.

Politics aside, I am not a poetry critic but from my amateur perspective the verse was well done .  Perhaps, it is my right-wing troglodyte coming out but the story was just a little too stereotypical modern liberal for me.

As touched on above, all the tropes of bohemian leftism are hit on here: animal cruelty, development destroying old neighborhoods, homosexuality, global warming, and general rampant materialism.

It is not that the message – that friends and family is what really matters not things – is objectionable, quite the contrary, it is that it is presented in such a politicized manner.  Or perhaps a culture that assumes a shared politics that isn’t there. This added up to a tone that was almost smug.  Not great for a Christmas story.

But, as I seem to say so often around here: your mileage may vary.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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