A Maine Christmas Carol
Philip F. Harris
Publication Date: Cambridge Books 2007
Philip Harris’ A Maine Christmas Carol, a modern retelling
of the Dickensian fable of Christmas’ past, present, and future in a middle class New England setting is a holiday treat
for readers of all ages. The spirit of the original story is cleverly unraveled
in a more up to date but equally grim narration of the experiences of a blighted contemporary Scrooge named Thomas as he “sees”
Christmas with his spirit guides.
The classic unfolding of the life of a beleaguered and very
ill-spirited young man faced with the consequences of his own self-serving actions is cleverly layered with messages aimed
at the socially irresponsible of our own life and times. A Maine Christmas Carol is a powerful parable of the ills of progressive
society left to exist unchecked and held unaccountable. Through the eyes of the spirit guides, Thomas sees that while he is
not responsible for the happiness of others, his actions do deeply impact all those who come in contact with him. From the
local shop owners to his eight-year-old sister, his exploits leave a deep and lasting impression. Even more critical to note
is the tsunami-like wave affect his acts, deeds, and lack of achievement has on those he will never meet. What he does not
do with his life is just as significant as what he has done so far in his 16 years.
In Harris’ A Maine Christmas Carol, a new family tradition
is born. The easy conversational writing style, the logical flow of the story, and the twist to the original story makes this
book a new classic that will go on the shelves right next to Dickens’ original morality tale. Harris does a marvelous job of weaving Thomas’ profound experience of redemption with the underlying
themes of social justice and poverty. A Maine Christmas Carol is explicit in demonstrating the relationship of the privileged
class in our country who has failed to address the social issues facing our society. Philip Harris has clearly and unequivocally
produced a rich allegory that redefines the importance of Christmas to a new generation of readers.
SHANNON EVANS, CHIEF EDITOR
Christmas Carol is a moving replay of the Christmas classic.
It comes to life in its portrayal of the character of TJ, a realistic portrait of a disenfranchised youth. He struggles to
deal with the loss of his father and fears loving his family in case he loses them also. By becoming totally self absorbed
he only has to think about himself, by putting down others he maintains his wall of uncaring. The author, Philip Harris, has
managed to create a sympathetic, understandable character even as TJ scares the elderly and young children alike.
thorough and meaningful plot is enveloped within of these pages. At around 100 pages it is a poignant and timely reminder
of the meaning of caring in today’s world. Its well chosen words enable a full length novel to inhabit the pages of
a novella. In the guise of the well loved tale it reminds us of the effects of modern life, its drugs, wars and
poverty, on its people. It gives us the hope and optimism that is much needed in our contemporary world.
will be a holiday treat for Maine and the country. Put up the holiday lights of all nations, light the fireplace and
curl up with this dose of hope.
Editor, FRONT STREET REVIEWS
A Maine Christmas Carol
Phillip F. Harris
Reviewed by Annette Gisby, UK,
author of Silent Screams and Shadows of the Rose.
At thirteen Thomas Johnson, known as T.J. loses his father in Iraq
just before Christmas, at fifteen his girlfriend commits suicide and by sixteen he has
gone completely off the rails, taking
drugs, hitting his younger brother and having no interest in anything except where
his next fix is coming from. His mother
is a social worker and T.J. is jealous of all the time she spends helping other
people and feels she doesn't care about
her own family at all. He has everything money can buy but money can't
buy what he really wants, his mother's time and
attention. He has no idea how to cope with the mess his life has
become and Christmas is just another horrible day in his
horrible life and he refuses to go with his mother and siblings
to his uncle's house to celebrate.
Staying in the
house on his own, he is visited by the ghost of his father, but T.J. thinks it's just the drugs he was taking.
is visited by three other spirits, of his past, present and future and nothing will be the same after that night.
modern retelling of the Dickens' tale, I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one. I have to say I was pleasantly
how much I did enjoy it. I'm normally not that keen on modernized versions of anything and I wasn't sure
how I was going
to relate to a drug addict.
Although short, the book packs a punch and Thomas was more of a sympathetic character than
I had anticipated.
Considering all the terrible things that happened in his short life, you could almost understand why
he turned to drugs
in the first place as a way to cope or to avoid his problems.
Not a word is wasted and you are
drawn into the story fairly quickly. The end of the book is a message of hope
and it leaves you with a warm feeling that
makes you want to hunt out the Christmas tree and curl up with a mug of
hot chocolate, even if I did read it in October.
TJ’s transformation from surly, disenfranchised youth to a more grown
up and responsible young man is deftly handled
and although the book ends just at the beginning of that transformation,
you know that all will be well for the Johnsons
from now on.
A great read.
"The unique storytelling of the three visitations
from the spirits of Christmas past, present and future are nothing short of marvelous writing and wonderful reading."
Marvin Wilson, author of I ROMANCED THE
"I will be completely surprised if we do
not see A MAINE CHRISTMAS CAROL as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, it is the kind of story families will gladly gather together
to enjoy for generations to come."
Joyce A. Anthony, author of STORM.
"At last, a classic for our own
Brian Doe, author of Barley and Gold and
co-author, WAKING GOD
"DEATH AND TERRORISM IN IRAQ, A POTHEAD
SCROOGE, AN EXASPERATED WIDOW, SEXUAL MOLESTATION, UNBEARABLE MEMORIES OF VIETNAM, TRANSCENDENT LOVE-A BITING FABLE FOR OUR
Djelloul Marbrook, English Editor, Arabesques
Literary and Cultural Review