Read The Cricket Of The Hearth by Charles Dickens Online

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Dickens gave his first formal expression to his Christmas thoughts in his series of small books, the first of which was the famous "Christmas Carol." There followed four others: "The Chimes," "The Cricket on the Hearth," "The Battle of Life," and "The Haunted Man." The five are known today as the "Christmas Books." Of them all the "Carol" is the best known and loved, and "Dickens gave his first formal expression to his Christmas thoughts in his series of small books, the first of which was the famous "Christmas Carol." There followed four others: "The Chimes," "The Cricket on the Hearth," "The Battle of Life," and "The Haunted Man." The five are known today as the "Christmas Books." Of them all the "Carol" is the best known and loved, and "The Cricket on the Hearth," although third in the series, is perhaps next in popularity, and is especially familiar to Americans through Joseph Jefferson's characterisation of Caleb Plummer.The title creature is a sort of barometer of life at the home of John Peerybingle and his much younger wife Dot. When things go well, the cricket on the hearth chirps; it is silent when there is sorrow. Tackleton, a jealous old man, poisons John's mind about Dot, but the cricket through its supernatural powers restores John's confidence and all ends happily....

Title : The Cricket Of The Hearth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781576460993
Format Type : Hardback
Number of Pages : 199 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Cricket Of The Hearth Reviews

  • Lyn
    2019-04-17 10:11

    Merry Christmas!Everyone in our time knows about Charles Dickens’ magnificent A Christmas Carol, but he actually produced five Christmas themed stories in the 1840s, A Christmas Carol being the first.The Cricket on the Hearth, the third in this series, is less otherworldly than its more famous predecessor, but has magical realism elements with the Cricket as a guardian spirit and references to spirits and faeries. Charmingly domestic, this tells a simple story of love lost and found again as only the inimitable Mr. Dickens can. Loyal readers of his prose will also enjoy many other ubiquitous qualities of his writing such as complex characters (and wickedly appropriate names) social observation and comment and the long lost traveller surreptitiously come home.Delightful.

  • Brina
    2019-03-27 14:20

    I attempted to read A Cricket on the Hearth for a holiday challenge in the group Reading for Pleasure. It is probably just the wrong time of year for me because I have enjoyed the other Dickens stories I have read. This is precisely why I read A Christmas Carol in October so that I could view it with an open mind. That being said, I did find out the origins of Jiminy Cricket, which I found to be touching. As with his other stories, Dickens writes social commentary about ills befalling the lower classes of London during the time in which he lived. I was especially moved by the relationship between Berta, a blind girl, and her father who are her eyes and link to the world. Yet, in the end, because this is a story written for a holiday which I do not observe, I could not read it to completion during the month of December. Perhaps I will try again next summer when there are no holidays and I can read the second half of this classic book with an open mind. Read 50%

  • Jean
    2019-04-05 10:29

    "The kettle began it! Don’t tell me what Mrs. Peerybingle said. I know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may leave it on record to the end of time that she couldn’t say which of them began it; but, I say the kettle did. I ought to know, I hope! The kettle began it, full five minutes by the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the corner, before the Cricket uttered a chirp."So begins The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home, and straightaway we can tell that this will be a light-hearted piece. Who else could start a novella with such aggrieved indignation by ... well we never really do learn who the narrator is. But right at the start we find ourselves in the middle of an argument between a kettle and a cricket, and it is hilarious—a real joy to read. Dickens loves to give inanimate objects life. He frequently turns a house or a chair into a quirky character with its own presence. Here is Dickens writing to his friend and mentor John Forster, of how he envisaged this charming story,"... a delicate and beautiful fancy for a Christmas book, making the cricket a little household god—silent in the wrong and sorrow of the tale, and loud again when all went well and happy"And this is what begins to unfold before our eyes. A dialogue between a simple kettle and a magical cricket threads all through the story; household fairies, goblins and sprites abound, all centring around an old-fashioned hearth with an open fire, belonging to a bygone age but epitomising home, domesticity and comfort. We have wonderfully drawn characters, a mystery to solve—and we certainly do have "wrong and sorrow". The whole elaborate confection is imbued with a fairytale quality.John and Dot "beaming, useful, busy little Dot—" Peerybingle, now there's a name to instil some joyful Christmas cheer. We quickly learn however that their marriage is threatened by a wide difference in their ages. This is a favourite theme of Dickens, an older husband and younger wife; the older man seeming to be a bit of a plodder and the younger wife being more vivacious and having a bit more more spirit. But who is this mysterious stranger who arrives? Here begins the element of mystery which Dickens always conjures up so well. Are there hints that Dot recognises this unexpected visitor?Before long we are introduced to the Ogre of the piece: a hard-hearted toymaker called Tackleton. Or "pretty generally known as Gruff and Tackleton—for that was the firm, though Gruff had been bought out long ago; only leaving his name, and as some said his nature ..."But wait, how can a toymaker be an Ogre? Read this and all will become clear,"Tackleton the Toy-merchant, was a man whose vocation had been quite misunderstood by his Parents and Guardians ... cramped and chafing in the peaceable pursuit of toymaking, he was a domestic Ogre, who had been living on children all his life, and was their implacable enemy. He despised all toys ... delighted, in his malice, to insinuate grim expressions into the faces of brown-paper farmers who drove pigs to market ... movable old ladies who darned stockings or carved pies; and other like samples of his stock in trade. In appalling masks; hideous, hairy, red-eyed Jacks in Boxes; Vampire Kites; demoniacal Tumblers who wouldn’t lie down, and were perpetually flying forward, to stare infants out of countenance; his soul perfectly revelled."What an inspiration for a villain: someone who delighted in creating toys with horrible faces, and expressions which would terrify their young owners! Of course he also happens to have a none too attractive appearance and manner, and to top it off is about to marry a young innocent girl.As well as the merry Peerybingles and gruff old Tackleton, we have hilarious cameos in the shape of the family dog, Boxer, and Tilly Slowboy, Mrs. Peerybingle's nursemaid. Tilly Slowboy is certainly "slow"; a great clumsy oaf of a girl, who seems to inadvertently use the baby as a battering ram at every opportunity,"Miss Slowboy, in her little errors of judgment, may be said to have done equal honour to her head and to her heart ... though these did less honour to the baby’s head, which they were the occasional means of bringing into contact with deal doors, dressers, stair-rails, bed-posts, and other foreign substances ... she had a rare and surprising talent for getting this baby into difficulties: and had several times imperilled its short life, in a quiet way peculiarly her own."There are many instances of Tilly Slowboy's antics as the text moves on, making for a very lively read. Tilly may be hitting the baby's head on something or losing "it" (the baby is always described as an object) under the grate. You may well find yourself laughing laughing out loud.We then move on to a centre section; the "Second Chirp". Here is another household comprising old Caleb Plummer, a poor dollmaker working for Tackleton, and his blind daughter Bertha. This part is significantly full of pathos, and if it feels at all over-sentimental, it is worth remembering that Victorians believed such disabilities as blindness were inherited. Dickens's portrayal of the yearning feelings of Bertha, is thus a deliberate way of building yet more tension in the story, because it was not very socially acceptable for the blind to marry. By now we have several relationships which appear to have complications and problems beneath the surface. There are at least two deceptions. One seems well-meaning, appealing to our emotions despite our trepidation, but the other could indicate treachery. That one is shrouded in doubt and uncertainty.As the story proceeds, (view spoiler)[ John is shown what appears to be proof of Dot's infidelity (hide spoiler)], and so he consults the spirit of the Cricket on the Hearth. Earlier in the novel Dot had said she liked the the chirping of the cricket, as it would bring luck. The cricket is revealed centre stage,"The Cricket on the Hearth came out into the room, and stood in Fairy shape before him"and a Voice tells John that all will be well. In in the end all the worry which John and others had is proved to be a misunderstanding. Everything falls nicely into place, and the couple are once more blissfully happy, and their friends join them. Happiness abounds, and there is even a surprise moral conversion of one character, on the lines of Ebenezer Scrooge's in "A Christmas Carol". Towards the conclusion, everything is sweetness and light, dancing, gaiety and good humour. The ending of the story has a wistful dream-like quality, as the scene winds down, and the story slowly refocuses,"Hark! how the Cricket joins the music with its Chirp, Chirp, Chirp; and how the kettle hums!"As the narrator watches, his bright vision "... vanished into air, and I am left alone. A Cricket sings upon the Hearth; a broken child’s-toy lies upon the ground; and nothing else remains."The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home is the third of Charles Dickens's five "Christmas Books". Unlike Dickens's novels, which were all initially published in serial form, the Christmas Books were all first published as books, a year apart. This one was first published as a novella on 20th December 1845. The first three Christmas books were the centrepiece of Dickens's public reading tours in the 1850s and 60s. Seventeen stage productions opened during the first Christmas season alone. One production actually opened on the same day as the book's release. For many years The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home was more popular on stage than "A Christmas Carol"! Victorian readers found its depiction of a happy home very attractive; this was a Victorian ideal. Nowadays however, a domestic setting focusing on the concerns of the home can seem banal, and this novella is sadly sometimes considered sentimental.In his first Christmas book "A Christmas Carol", Dickens had divided into his novella into chapters called "Staves"; in the second, "The Chimes" he named them "Quarters". Here, in The Cricket on the Hearth he whimsically calls them "Chirps". In fact "whimsical" is a word which springs to mind to describe the whole content of this book. Although these first three were all phenomenally popular at the time, only the supremely optimistic "A Christmas Carol" has kept its reputation as a perfect Christmas story. "The Chimes" in many ways was a very topical story, directly about the social problems of the 1840s. Although we can easily relate to its broad message, it now seems less relevant, and some specific references are often missed. Overall now readers often consider it too depressing and downbeat.With The Cricket on the Hearth Dickens has returned to a more lighthearted tone. The bitter sardonic voice of the author has gone, along with the harsh descriptions, and we are back to a scenario which Dickens himself describes as "quiet and domestic ... innocent and pretty." The public loved it, and it quickly went through two editions. William Makepeace Thackeray said,"To us, it appears it is a good Christmas book, illuminated with extra gas, crammed with extra bonbons, French plums and sweetness ... This story is no more a real story than Peerybingle is a real name!"And here we have the crux of the matter. Do not expect the satirical side of Dickens here, nor the hectoring lambast he tended to indulge in, especially in the early novels. This is all sweetness and light; the tongue-in-cheek voice of the Dickens who loved his magical sprites, his house fairies, his pretty females and his quaint, comfortable domesticity, his laugh-out-loud cameos, and his happy endings. It is as the subtitle suggests, "A Fairy Tale of Home," and although it is quite sentimental for modern tastes, if you approach it in the right spirit you may enjoy it immensely.The original illustrations were unusually by several different artists: Daniel Maclise, John Leech, Richard Doyle, Clarkson Stanfield and Edwin Henry Landseer. The frontispiece, a lovely engraving by Daniel Maclise, features many of the goblins and fairies that Dickens seemed to love to include for atmosphere and that bit of elusive and inexplicable "magic" — especially around Christmas. The version reviewed here is from 1912, when Pears' Ltd., published Centenary Editions of the first five Christmas books by Dickens, and also commissioned new artists. The illustrations are not caricatures. They are naturalistic monochrome watercolours by L. Rossi, but they are also very fine.

  • Cheryl
    2019-04-10 14:12

    There I was this month, thinking I had temporarily lost my drive for commenting on books read. Until I dug up Dickens--well, it was more like I added him to my phone and listened: eyes closed, breath even, mind a blank slate waiting to be consumed by the sound of words paired carefully. There goes my spare time, Dickens, I give it to you sparingly. Do what you will with it. And he told me a story. A simple, perhaps even dull, storyline of no intricate consequence and still, I was fascinated. For only a few can tell a story quite like Dickens (now I must read and re-read his works in the months to come). The personification of cuckoos and crickets. A carrier, a toy merchant, and a blind woman. Love and suspicions of a lover. Loving deception--if one can imagine such a thing. The kettle hums. The cricket chirps. The storytelling mastery begins. Put aside the nagging reminder that your protagonist is oldddd and that his love is quite a youngun. Or the annoying reference to the "pathetic" daughter or the nagging wife. Oy, those minor annoyances become trivial once you get narration like this:Did I mention that he had always one eye open and one eye nearly shut and that the one eye nearly shut was always the expressive eye? It all started with the cricket on the hearth. Get upset at a character only to learn that he is in fact being mocked by the narrator: "A twist in his dry face and a screw in his body."A compelling narration indeed. This oddly placed, entertaining "voice" that moves the story along. The depth of character introspection that is missing from so many contemporary short novels and stories. And did I mention again, how simple the story really is, this realistic fairy tale which showcases the human condition?

  • Sara
    2019-04-04 16:33

    I love Charles Dickens all year round, but I really adore reading him at Christmas time. I had never read this novella before, and it lived up to my expectations of what a Dickens tale should be. It is billed as a Christmas story, but I don't see it as that at all. It is a story of home and love and the value of those over money. I might not ever listen to the chirp of a cricket quite the same.Happy New Year to everyone here at Goodreads and around the world. I wish you all a happy home, filled with love, kindness and peace.

  • David
    2019-04-04 14:27

    This was a free download from Audible, and who can pass up a free Dickens?One of Dickens' Christmas stories, this one features a series of misunderstanding and coincidences in typical Dickens fashion.A Scrooge-like toymaker named Tackleton is engaged to marry a much younger woman, who clearly does not love him, but needs the financial security he offers. Meanwhile, the lovely Dot is also married to a much older man, but alas, events transpire to lead poor Mr. Peerybingle to believe his beloved Dot is secretly meeting with a gallant younger man. Lastly, there is Blind Bertha, the daughter of impoverished Caleb Plumber, who has conspired to conceal from his blind daughter their true circumstances.I have said that Caleb and his poor Blind Daughter lived here. I should have said that Caleb lived here, and his poor Blind Daughter somewhere else—in an enchanted home of Caleb’s furnishing, where scarcity and shabbiness were not, and trouble never entered. Caleb was no sorcerer, but in the only magic art that still remains to us, the magic of devoted, deathless love, Nature had been the mistress of his study; and from her teaching, all the wonder came.The Blind Girl never knew that ceilings were discoloured, walls blotched and bare of plaster here and there, high crevices unstopped and widening every day, beams mouldering and tending downward. The Blind Girl never knew that iron was rusting, wood rotting, paper peeling off; the size, and shape, and true proportion of the dwelling, withering away. The Blind Girl never knew that ugly shapes of delf and earthenware were on the board; that sorrow and faintheartedness were in the house; that Caleb’s scanty hairs were turning greyer and more grey, before her sightless face. The Blind Girl never knew they had a master, cold, exacting, and uninterested—never knew that Tackleton was Tackleton in short; but lived in the belief of an eccentric humourist who loved to have his jest with them, and who, while he was the Guardian Angel of their lives, disdained to hear one word of thankfulness.These three couples, whose lives are intertwined, are each the beneficiaries of a cricket on a hearth, who conjures household spirits symbolic of all that is good in their lives, and the miseries each endures are overcome in the end.A heartwarming little tale, though not one of Dickens' best. I didn't delight in any marvelous Dickensian turns of phrases as I have in so many of his other stories, nor were the characters particularly memorable. But it's certainly a nice tale to listen to by a crackling fire. (Or in my case, while raking leaves.)

  • Becky
    2019-03-29 16:13

    The Goodreads description for this book reads like an 8th grader heard about the book via a game of Telephone and then had to write a book report on it: "Dickens was a Victorian novelist and social campaigner. This novella published in 1845 is a Christmas story. Instead of chapters this book is divided into Chirps. The story revolves around a family with a cricket in the house. The cricket is their guardian angel. At one point the cricket warns the master that his wife may be having an affair. Even though this seems to be a tragic occurrence all is well in the end. Love prevails and a girl may regain her sight. This is a Christmas tale after all." I'm amused by this. I'm tempted to go through sentence by sentence to grade this travesty of an assignment, but I shall restrain myself. There's just too much wrong there, from bad grammar and punctuation to random statements that have nothing to do with the book, to just 100% incorrect info. At one point the cricket warns the master that his wife may be having an affair? A girl may regain her sight? Telephone really is the only explanation for this level of wrong. Tackleton tells Mr. Peerybingle that his wife is being unfaithful, not the cricket. And Bertha's eyes are her father, who describes the world to her. It's just ridiculously bad. Shamefully bad. But I digress. I actually enjoyed this little story, despite it being read by Jim Dale (hatehatehate) and not being about Christmas at all. I'm guessing that it's a "Christmas story" because it was originally released a few days before Christmas... or maybe based on the Gregorian calendar? The story takes place in January, and has nothing at all Christmasy about it. The celebrations are because of a wedding, and an anniversary, and a new baby... not Christmas. Oh, but maybe the cricket/fairy/angel...? Ehh, it's a stretch. Grinch, Grinch, Grinch! Scrooge, Scrooge, Scrooge. That's me. FYI. So, anyway, taking away the non-Christmasness, and the Jim Daleness (hatehatehate), otherwise I thought it was good. Took a little while to get going, but after the twelve minute kettle/cricket serenade, things dropped into the story of Victorian homelife, with a little fantastical twist of having a cricket/fairy/angel in it. Though, honestly, that whole aspect could have been removed, because the conflict was resolved separately. Umm, so, I guess what I'm saying is that you should only read this while drunk. It'll make perfect sense then.

  • John
    2019-03-24 11:30

    A much cheerier tale than The Chimes with an an imaginative story line which evolves cleverly. Only the clutter of words and clumsy sentence structure gets in the way to spoil it. I did not always find it easy to follow. Christmastide doesn’t figure at all here but the message and sentiment are quintissential Christmas – Love and fairness towards our fellow man and woman. (Dickens here exploring relationships between men and women had me thinking about his relationships with women, in particular his wife and mistress(es)). The mature carrier, John, married to a much younger woman Dot (real name Mary). Her school friend too is also about to marry a much older man in order to help the flagging family fortunes. This older gent is a toy seller who hates children and has not a little in common with old Scrooge. Dickens also looks at society’s attitudes towards disability – focusing on young blind Bertha and shows himself ahead of his times. I formed the impression that this tale was written in a hurry and would benefit from editorial intervention, slimming it down somewhat.

  • Chris
    2019-03-31 11:11

    Unfortunately, this was one of my least favorite Dickens stories I've read to date. I wanted to read something by Dickens for Christmas to take a break from reading A Christmas Carol like I do each year at this time. I was disappointed to discover that, even though this story was in a volume called "Stories For Christmas" by Dickens, it wasn't about Christmas at all. It was basically about a couple families, simple and rustic, that redefine/renew their love for each other through a series of misunderstandings. The 'cricket' is real, but also a metaphor of the spirit of the home ('hearth') that works on one's thoughts and memories to help a person perceive the true value of the ones they love, especially in time of doubt. See, I told you it was stupid. Ha! But seriously, it was a Dickens story through-and-through with its wit, poetic observations, surprising twists, and nostalgic backdrop...but the plot was the most lame I've read to this date. I'm glad it was only about 70 pages.

  • Gary
    2019-03-27 10:25

    A heartwarming tale about a middle aged carrier, John Peerybingle, his young wife, Dot . the long suffering Caleb Plummer the latter's blind daughter , Bertha, and Caleb's tight fisted and spiteful employer Mr TackletonThe cricket on the hearth of the delivery man and his wife's home is the guardian spirit of the family, and warns them of all sorts of things to come.When Tackleton leads John to believe his wife is involved with a young man, it is the cricket who must act as the voice of reason and point the way to the truth of her innocence, making for a happy endingI did like the turn of phrase(especially Dot's) and the humour and those who say that this novella lacked Dicken's usual wordcraft were missing something.

  • Terris
    2019-04-15 09:21

    I loved this, and it made me realize how much I have been missing Charles Dickens (since I haven't read him for awhile)! I love his wordplay, fun with language, and his sense of humor overall.It's a very, very sweet story about couples in love that think that they are each cheating on each other, and there's a blind girl and a cricket, and then they're not cheating on each other, and they all live happily ever after....oh, sorry for the spoilers -- but it's Charles Dickens. What were you expecting?!I don't mean to be flip about this story, but I really liked it and it put me in a good mood. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did ;)

  • Sara J. (kefuwa)
    2019-04-12 12:12

    I found I had to take notes at the beginning due to the seemingly meandering prose. But once I got the hang of the references and which names actually meant which persona I could stop taking notes. I found this one quite delightful. But then again I haven't found a Dicken's work I have finished that I did not like.

  • Morgan
    2019-03-27 12:19

    Wasn't that into this story as much as I thought. It's still a good one to read for the season though. Mainly wanted to read this one for a while because the comic book Fables has the Cricket in some of their Christmas issues.

  • Cherie
    2019-04-05 10:32

    I listened to this book in audio as well as reading it in print. I liked it. I didn't love it. I loved the narration by Jim Dale. He really made the characters come to life, but I had to actually read the printed story to understand parts of it. The title leads one to belive it might be a cute little story, but it is not. It is a dark story with a grown up theme. There is love, lying, seeming betrayl and hurt feelings going on. Yes, there is a cricket and faries and a lost son returning and a funny little baby nanny too. Like The Christmas Carol, it turns out in the end and everyone is happy. I was glad.

  • Amanda
    2019-04-06 14:22

    I listened to the Jim Dale narrated audiobook, to whose narration I'd not listened to before. He really made the characters come alive! I'll have to reread this to be sure of my thoughts on the story, but for now three stars is well deserved.

  • Tristram
    2019-04-07 15:37

    Six Legs but Hardly One to Stand onWith all due respect to the achievements of Charles Dickens, who is one of my favourite writers, I think the above eight words quite an apt characterization of this chirp of a book Dickens published in 1845 as The Cricket on the Hearth. It was the third of five Christmas books the Inimitable wrote between 1843 and 1848, and it is probably the one exception to the following statement made by R.C. Churchill in his essay “The Genius of Charles Dickens” [1]:“Now I believe that in some respects Dickens is the greatest genius in English literature; but I also believe that no writer of any distinction at all has ever produced so much rubbish. And unfortunately the genius and the rubbish exist side by side in the same novels.”In The Cricket on the Hearth I did not come across any genius at all, but I rather felt like someone who fell, headfirst, into a vat of stale and exceedingly sticky fudge, which was left open to simmer in the sun of a muggy summer’s day. It is hard to believe that the man who was on the verge of writing his most fascinating novels, who was a master of haunting prose and taunting satire could come up with such puerile prose and such a poor excuse of a story. The story itself centres on John Peerybingle – that name, indeed, is like the rest of the book –, an honest and rather straightforward haulier, who is led to believe by a bitter toy-merchant named Tackleton that his younger wife Dot does not truly love him and plans to run away with a former sweetheart of hers. It is due to the Cricket, the embodiment of hearth and home, however, that his spirit is uplifted and that he shows that even while he fears his wife will leave him he can muster up magnanimous generosity. There are also the stories of Tackleton, who wants to marry a girl much younger than himself, and of a father, Caleb Plummer, who tries to spare his daughter the grim realities of their miserable life by inventing all sorts of stories about their modest home and by presenting their surroundings in a rosy light to her.While that latter element was very touching, the rest of the book seemed like the recycling of elements Dickens had used in A Christmas Carol and The Chimes – only here, we have the Cricket and Fairies instead of ghosts and the magic chimes and (view spoiler)[the conversion of the mean-spirited and conniving Tackleton comes as an afterthought without being carefully developed in the story so that it is absolutely implausible. (hide spoiler)] Apart from that, the style is rather wordy and childish but I assume that it met Victorian tastes, which were rather sentimental and prone to take delight in revelling in panegyrics of homely bliss and female submissiveness. You might as well take fair warning from the first few pages where the narrator goes on and on about who started it – never mind what “it” refers to –, the cricket or the kettle, so that you will soon gladly dismiss this question in favour of the infinitely more urgent one of who will actually stop “it”. The story, which is somewhere in all those words, is a deplorably ramshackle vehicle, too, and most of it is actually reported in the dialogues – and monologues, oh those monologues – of the characters instead of being told first-hand. It is a bit of a jellyfish in that it has neither head nor tail.One might say that Dickens wrote this Christmas story because the public expected some such story of him at that time of year and because it would prove a good bargain for Dickens, who knew how to strike one if he saw it – but still I am afraid that the Inimitable actually liked this kind of infantile and pointless sentimentalism. [2] If you really want to read a well-crafted Christmas story, there is always the unforgettable Christmas Carol.[1] In: Boris Ford (ed.), The New Pelican Guide to English Literature, Vol. 6: From Dickens to Hardy, p.117.[2] As I hinted earlier, it is not completely unbearable because the motif of the father who tries to shield his daughter from the grim realities of their poverty-stricken life is touching, although not very realistically developed and although the blind girl, Bertha, is reduced to another of Dickens’s female saints. Apart from that there are some few passages, very few, which breathe Dickens’s exuberant humour.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-04-12 13:36

    Amount listened to: about a thirdJim Dale does an amazing job with the narration (duh), but I just can't with this story. My mind keeps wandering because I do not give a single fuck about the Peerybingles and their saccharine Christmas. I think Dickens' Christmas tales are just not for me.

  • Joshua
    2019-03-25 16:18

    The Cricket on the Hearth is the last of the more well-known Christmas books that Dickens wrote. There are two after it, but those (The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man) are not even included in all collections of his Christmas books and are often neglected by all except Dickens aficionados. Still, even being in the big three, its popularity has waned, especially compared to A Christmas Carol. This is probably due to our changing sensibilities. Like most of Dickens’ works, it relies heavily on coincidence, miscommunication, and sentimentality. The coincidence is less heavy-handed as, say, Oliver Twist, but the miscommunication and sentimentality come in double to make up for that. Miscommunication is still a common plot device in storytelling, but sentimentality seems to be the greatest sin an author can commit.Despite all this, it happens to be my favorite of his Christmas books. Well, okay, it competes with A Christmas Carol every year, but it’s up there for me. Comparing the two is pointless though, as they’re not the same type of story at all. They do share a common thread of the “Scrooge” character, but it’s downplayed in The Cricket on the Hearth, and as I plan to show, Tackleton isn’t really as much of a “Scrooge-type” as the author would have you believe.The story is one of hearth and home, and as such, deals with family and marriage. Like any good story, there has to be conflict, and with most stories of family and marriage that conflict is deception. The issue of adultery is dealt with, which if I’m not mistaken, is a rare topic for Dickens. I think he might deal with it in Dombey and Son, but only slightly. It’s also been a good many years since I read it. I can understand why he might want to shy away from it, but if anyone knows of other instances, I’d be glad to be reminded.The main conflict is based on a slight deception between a carrier and his wife (on the wife’s side), which leads to a rather important miscommunication; and of course, since it’s Dickens, everything works out in the end, reputations intact. There are two other conflicts tied into the main one. One dealing with Caleb Plummer and his blind daughter Bertha. Plummer, who works for Tackleton as a toymaker, has painted the world his daughter lives in as better than it is, taking advantage of her blindness to make her think their poor, spare life is bright and easy. It’s an innocent deception, and really adds nothing to the story. Frankly, I could do without it, but if it adds nothing, it certainly takes nothing away--except for the readers time, I suppose. The other conflict, which ties much closer to the main story, is the marriage of Tackleton to May Fielding, much his junior and a schoolfellow of Dot (the carrier’s wife). This mirrors John and Dot’s marriage, in that there is, as well, a disparity in age. The titular character (the cricket) comes about in the last “chirp” and sets everything right in the end, even the bitter, old Tackleton, making a very Scrooge like change.Spoilers will follow from this point. I have two thoughts about this book that tend to differ from popular opinion, and the first one is in regards to Tackleton. The first time I read the novel, I viewed him as the villain, though even then I’d have said it’s a bit harsh of a title. After viewing him again and again over the years, having read the novel six or seven times now, I’ve changed my opinion on him. He is an old grouch, yes, but there’s nothing really Scrooge like in him. When first introduced, Dickens goes through the trouble of explaining that if he had pursued a different line of work, better suited to his personality, he would likely be an amiable fellow by this time in his life. He (Dickens) even drops a hint that his parents had put him in the toymaking business, which to me implies that toymaking was in the family line. So, from the outset, he’s a man who was forced into following the family business against his will. Secondly, he seems, in his own way, to be a compassionate sort of fellow. When he reveals Dot’s deception to John, he doesn’t seem to revel in causing misery, though he does seem to enjoy being right; and in the last chapter, it feels heartfelt when he wishes he could give John joy. There is also the un-Scrooge-like fact that he plans to give Caleb Plummer a ride home from the carrier's house. I think he wants to be kind, but finds it difficult. I don't think he has a jovial nature certainly, but I don't think he's truly mean-spirited. Furthermore, his low opinion of himself gives me some sympathy for him. Berta thinks quite highly of him (because of her father’s deceptions), and because of this, as Dickens points out, he thinks very low of her mental capacity. There is, of course, the wedding he’s "forcing" upon May Fielding, but unlike a true villain, I do not get an impression that he delights in causing turmoil or even expects that he will. He strikes me as lonely in his old age, and hopes to find companionship in this marriage. He does not love her, and knows she does not love him; however, he does look forward to a certain bliss in his marriage. There is also his attitude towards the wedding ring when he finds out May has married Edward Plummer. Instead of trying to sell it or return it for part of his money back, he asked the servant girl to kindly dispose of it in the fire. I think, with loneliness and missed opportunities of his youth, he’s become an eccentric grouch, but by no means a bad man. So, considering his change at the end, it’s really not much of one. He’s simply feeling defeated by disappointment and longing for connection, and when he shows how friendly he can be, he’s just showing a side of himself that was always there. Loneliness and routine have simply buried it.The second thought I have that people tend to disagree with me about is the identity of the narrator. Popular opinion seems to tend towards Bertha as the narrator. I’ve never understood that. The final paragraph reads thus: “But what is this! Even as I listen to them, blithely, and turn towards Dot, for one last glimpse of a little figure very pleasant to me, she and the rest have vanished into air, and I am left alone. A Cricket sings upon the Hearth; a broken child's-toy lies upon the ground; and nothing else remains.” I’ve heard that this story is a vision given to Bertha by the cricket/fairy, but I think what is much more likely is that it is the baby, as a grown man, being given a vision of his parents. There is one instance of a vision John is given of his life with Dot, going all the way to his death. I can’t help but think that Dot and John have passed, and their son is perhaps cleaning out and getting ready to sell their family home. I think the broken toy indicates this as well, while also alluding to a continued relationship with the Plummer family and Tackleton. The cricket is allowing a vision of when these people’s relationships intertwined and they perhaps became a close-knit group that he remembers fondly. It’s not really important, but I just get annoyed by seeing explanations of the final paragraph as a vision for Bertha without any evidence.

  • Tisha
    2019-04-21 10:35

    Ummmm what happens when somebody gives Dickens three stars? Am I going to have my bookstagram account canceled???This was basically every episode of Three's Company. - There was lying to save somebody's feelings- There was miscommunication- There were misunderstandingsThe only thing missing was Jack tripping over a sofa.But Jim Dale as narrator on this Audible book kept me listening. Thank you Jim Dale.

  • Mohamed
    2019-04-10 15:20

    قصة جميلة ولطيفة تتحدث عن التسامح وحسن الظن بالناس ومراعاة شعور الأخرين والأيثار

  • Suvi
    2019-04-18 10:23

    The third installment in Dickens's series of Christmas books, The Cricket on the Hearth is perhaps not set during Christmastime, but it has the spirit of Christmas. When suspicion is planted in our hearts, it can eat away your soul, especially when one fails to see that some people are motivated by negativity. The wounds caused to mutual trust can be healed, though, and - because this is Dickens we are dealing with - trust is eventually restored and the warmth of love spreads into even the coldest of hearts. Isn't this what Christmas is about? It doesn't matter whether it's celebrated because of its religious background, or because eating yourself conscious and relaxing at the end of the year sounds tempting - everyone should have a sense of peace during this time of year and the understanding that everything will eventually turn out for the better. The ones who use Christmas merely for financial gain or cause harm to others are the misers.Not all misers will change, but although excess sentimentality usually annoys me, I appreciate the hope Dickens tries to instill in his readers. The portrayal of domestic bliss of Victorian times is an interesting peek to the family values at a certain point in history, but the characters felt more distant and the plot not as interesting as in the previous two. The poetic and song-like prose I enjoyed in The Chimes (1844) didn't appeal to me here, instead the story seemed a bit too drawn out and contrived. I think the general homeliness was what made this more flat and uninteresting, but there was a bit of rehash going on in terms of some plot devices as well. Unlike the first two, this was wordy in all the wrong places and seemed unpolished, and the plot manages to be a mess while being very simple and boring at the same time (the most ridiculously implausible turn of events at the end certainly doesn't help).Some would consider the Christmas books as Dickens at his worst, but I believe the approach is so much more different than in his regular novels that comparison is futile. Although with a basis in reality, the magical realist elements in the Christmas books place them in a different world, a world of fairy tales where ghosts, goblins, and fairies come to change people's lives. The sentimentality, therefore, is not a negative thing to be rejected, but to be embraced as something innocent and pure. Joy, forgiveness, understanding, and the desire to make your loved ones feel as comfortable as possible belong to the hearths of homes. I may not have liked The Cricket on the Hearth that much, but at least the message delivers.

  • Deana
    2019-04-04 13:33

    Bleh. Audible was giving this away around Christmas time, and now I see why. The narration was fine, though a bit slow (the book itself is not even 90 pages and it took over 3.5 hours of reading -- most books have a bit smaller ratio of pages to hours). But the book itself was just ... meh.The first hour I listened to while running, and at the end of it exactly nothing had happened. Although if you think about it, that's about 20 pages into the book, so I suppose it makes sense that nothing had happened except a bunch of sentences about whistling tea kettles and chirping crickets, and right at the very end of it the husband came home with his unexpected guest and then I was done running and turned off the book. I had high hopes that the next time I listened to the book the "action" would start.But no. Or, well, I suppose some things happened, but the book certainly didn't get much better. There was a Dickensian twist at the end, which did actually catch me off guard, but that was its only redeeming quality and wasn't enough to even bump my rating up to a 2. The characters were annoying and shallow, I have no idea why Caleb and "his blind daughter" (and don't get me started on this, she has a name, but even her FATHER called her his "blind daughter" most of the time instead of using her name like she was a real person! Maybe a sign of the times but jeez) were in the book at all... the plot didn't need them as far as I could tell. I had THOUGHT that (view spoiler)[maybe when Bertha heard the footsteps and asked her father to describe the man that due to her blindness she could "see through" his disguise by the way he moved or talked, but no. (hide spoiler)]And this is supposedly a Christmas novel, but I didn't hear mention of Christmas at all. Bah!In all, I was glad it only took away 3.5 hours of my life. Except that I can't even use it to fill any of my challenges!

  • Thom Swennes
    2019-03-21 10:34

    Charles Dickens Christmas stories have always appealed to children. This fact, no doubt, has helped to make his short Christmas stories popular around the world. The Cricket in the Hearth is the third story in his Christmas story series (A Christmas Carol being the first and The Chimes being the second). Dickens, however, didn’t target children with his writing of these stories but rather the broadest of audiences (everyone). Although none have attained the fame and notoriety of A Christmas Carol, The Cricket in the Hearth deserves more than it has received. Again Dickens combines elements that appeal to the public. What better combination could he use than the best holiday of the year and love (either would be great on its own but together they are an unbeatable amalgamation)? This isn’t a story to only be enjoyed in or around the Yule tide season but the year around. It is a great tale requiring a minimum amount of effort.

  • Julie Davis
    2019-03-25 12:38

    This is the next book for my Forgotten Classics podcast, thanks to long-time listener (and friend) Sarah Reinhard's request. I've been struggling getting the LibriVox file incorporated with my own but it will be worth the effort to allow you to hear Ruth Golding's fantastic reading of this Christmas classic.FINALI had to finish this ahead of podcasting the episodes at Forgotten Classics so that I could comment on them at the end. In the end, this wasn't a master work but it was quite enjoyable although more sugary and sentimental than I expected. Ruth Golding's superb narration raises this far above any detriment from the sweetness of the story.

  • Allan
    2019-03-27 11:21

    This was the third of Dickens' Christmas books, and like The Chimes, isn't a Christmas book because of its content, but due to when it was released. The novella was hugely popular at the time apparently, and the Wikipedia entry is again informing, though unsurprisingly contains spoilers aplenty ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cri... ).I'll probably read or listen to the two remaining Dickens Christmas books at some stage, but I'll not be rushing to do so after this and The Chimes.NB I listened to both books via the free Librivox recordings, and I'd recommend these as being the best I've found from this public domain service.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-31 16:37

    I enjoy the saccharine, and this story fits the bill. A story of the middle-aged and constant John, and his sweet, young wife Dot. Yes, the cricket bits were weird. I'd compare them to the magic in Water Babies.My favourite bit was the way Tilly was always smashing the baby's head on something.

  • Margaret
    2019-04-09 17:25

    I rather enjoyed this little book though I do wonder the connection that it has with Christmas though I enjoyed the drama, the fleshing out of characters and the story itself. A good teaser for me as I plan to delve into Dickens seriously in the coming year.

  • Robin Hatcher
    2019-03-28 12:39

    While I enjoyed this book, I found it more difficult to follow than A Christmas Carol. It's a pleasant story with good characterization, and I liked the ending. The audio version was wonderfully narrated.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-23 15:29

  • Antea
    2019-04-11 14:21

    This book is on some way poetic.