Date: November 2003
Reviewed: Hardcover / Reviewed ARC
it at Amazon
Notes: Kristin Johnson released her second book, CHRISTMAS
COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, in October
2003.Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual,
Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert
A.L. Perrin, M.D., will be published by PublishAmerica in 2004.
By Louis Bayard
doesn't love A Christmas Carol as well as the myriad movies
and retellings it has spawned (the best being the 1980s version
with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge, "Mickey's Christmas
Carol" and Patrick Stewart's one-man show)? But did you wonder
if Ebenezer was, to Tiny Tim, a "second father"? What
happened to Bob Cratchit
and to Tiny Tim himself?
those who still bear a grudge against Charles Dickens for all those
high school and college readings of Hard Times and A Tale
of Two Cities, Louis Bayard's novel Mr. Timothy is not
the Cliff's Notes version of literature but a worthy successor to
Dickens, with the same superb special touch for arousing suspense
and horror. Ghosts follow young Tiny Tim, now grown into Mr. Timothy
Cratchit, specifically a young girl as well as venerable old Bob.
Timothy's life is already surreal as he teaches Robinson Crusoe
in secret to Mrs. Sharpe, a madam of a high-class brothel, the Heidi
Fleiss of her day
that is, if Heidi Fleiss dealt in child prostitution.
The plot against foreign young girls Timothy uncovers, with the
help of an engaging Italian orphan and victim named Philomela and
a Haley Joel Osment-type youngster Colin the Melodious, makes even
Michael Jackson look normal. In the wake of the Elizabeth Smart,
Danielle van Dam, and JonBenet Ramsey cases, this novel serves as
an unexpected social commentary. Dickens would surely have approved.
would also have enjoyed Timothy Cratchit, his tender kinship with
Ebenezer Scrooge (not quite an uncle, but as it turns out, a father
figure for Colin the Melodious), his own conflicted feelings about
pedophilia from a former tutor (no, it's not the Gloved One gone
Victorian), his awkward relationships with women, his father-son
kinship with the salty sea dog Captain Gully, hand his search for
a place in the world beyond his childhood Pip-like fantasy of being
whisked away and being made a gentleman.
characters are more flawed and likeable than Dickensian models,
the villains are the epitome of evil, and we get to see Tiny Tim
become "Not so tiny any more."