Losing Ebenezer Scrooge

Gregory Maguire is best known for his alternative Wizard of Oz tale, Wicked, but the rest of his writing continues the habit of unique interpretations of classic fairy tales. He’s has reimagined Snow White, Cinderella and The Little Match Girl. He strays from fairy tales with Lost, where he ventures into Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In Lost, the main character Winnie investigates the claim that her great-great-grandfather was the inspiration for Charles Dicken’s Ebeneezer Scrooge.

The cover and description are misleading - there is no story of Scrooge. Scrooge is mentioned briefly once or twice but then falls from the page and is forgotten. This is truly a tale of a woman's realization that her life has descended into paralytic despair, framed as a ghost story.

Winnie visits London seeking inspiration to finish her second novel, which centers on a woman haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. Like Scrooge, Jack the Ripper also vanishes from the storyline so completely the reader must ask why he was included at all. It seems to be an odd distraction from the rest of the carefully crafted tale.

During her stay in London Winnie is haunted; by a ghost, by memories, by self doubt and by uncertainty for her future. Winnie and her specter are inexorably linked and as she seeks to discover the ghost’s past she is forced to face her own. The story shifts between Winnie’s life, her tortured past and the story of the ghost. Lost is a tale of many threads, and it requires the reader’s patience to see it to the close, but upon reaching it, the novel congeals into a poignant portrayal of loss and motherhood.

Though it wasn’t the story is presents itself to be, it was unique and enthralling. The world Maguire created is rich in poetry and imagery, making the sense of terror and suspense all the more real.The progression of the hauntings swells and subsides and Maguire sprinkles in doubt about Winnie’s mental well-being; the reader is unsure if this is a ghost story or if they are witnesses to a person's mental unraveling.

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This work by H.E. Saunders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.