The prequel to A CHRISTMAS CAROL— A sweet Regency Christmas romance
Here at last is the untold story of Scrooge’s doomed engagement
Belle Endicott and Ebenezer Scrooge are young, bookish, hardworking Londoners drawn together by button-making. His brand-new factory threatens her family’s tiny shop, yet they fall in love and start planning their future. When personal and business calamities strike, they confront them vigorously side by side, but ultimately something has to give. We know what it is. They do not.
I received this book from the author for free, however this is a voluntary review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
Nearly everyone has at least heard of Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge, the infamous miser who hates Christmas and says, “Bah Humbug!” a lot. The grouchy character was first brought to life in the beloved (and slightly creepy) story, The Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. However, in The Red Button, Keith Eldred acts as a generous Spirit of Christmas Past, taking his readers back in time to experience Mr. Scrooge’s love story. He organically introduces many familiar names from the original story, weaving them in and giving them believable and appropriate backstories. And, more importantly, he spins a tale of sweet, Regency-era romance (a clean one, at that!) that will make you hopeful for one of literature’s grumpiest characters, even though you know how it’s going to end (even if you don’t know, the author tells you on the first page, so there won’t be any surprises).
This story was actually pretty flawless for me. I seriously don’t have any negative criticism for it at all. For starters, the characters were as charming as could be- even the miser himself! The author did a fantastic job at bringing the characters to life and making them relatable. I legitimately even related to Mr. Scrooge at many points, which I loved! It takes a talented author to rewrite a character with Mr. Scrooge’s reputation in such a way as to give him new layers and make him loveable. Mr. Eldred rose to the challenge and succeeded in ways that Mr. Scrooge would be envious of.
“Activity makes a man neither better nor worse. It merely reveals what he values. Do not chase your worth or seek to establish it. You own it already.”
Eldred also used quite a unique “character” through which to deliver most of the narrative: the titular Red Button. The object represented so much, and its sentimental value was revealed gradually throughout the book. It was an interesting perspective from which to describe some of the most important moments in the love story of Belle and Ebenezer. I applaud Eldred for his creativity in this.
“‘I cannot change the entire world for every person.’ ‘You can change a corner of it for a few people. For your people.’“
In addition, I commend him for his delicate depiction of dementia in the story. The condition is heartbreaking to encounter in loved ones in real life, and he did a fantastic job of describing how people react to it in various ways. Given his personal background, I think Mr. Eldred was very brave for including this aspect in the story and handled it graciously.
“The heart asks what it wants to ask and needs to ask. It doesn’t have sense. The mind has sense. Let the heart speak, always. The mind will speak in its own time.”
Aside from the book, which I obviously recommend, the backstory of the author himself (which I’ve just hinted at) is well worth a read. It seems Mr. Eldred’s writing has been motivated by his own true love (to whom he has been married for 30 years, as of the book’s release date!). I won’t spoil it for you, but I highly encourage you to go to his website www.thisis.red and read about it for yourself. It’s inspiring and heartwarming!
Overall, I really loved this book and think it is the perfect holiday read (including Christmas in July). In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to go watch The Christmas Carol right now, despite it being insanely hot outside! I give it a full 5 stars and will most likely read it again!