DEAR MR. DICKENS (Cybils 2021)

There wasn’t always a push for diverse books (or at least positive portrayals of minorities) and nobody showed that better than apparently Charles Dickens’ first printing of Oliver Twist.

Fagin was clearly a very bad guy and apparently his Jewishness was referenced repeatedly.

Being Jewish, Dickens fan and bookworm Eliza Davis was understandably offended… Nancy Churnin’s DEAR MR. DICKENS is the story of how a rich British housewife made like the Ghost of Hanukkah Present and wrote Charles Dickens a series of letters to set him straight.

Loved

  • This entire story was heartwarming and frankly a wonderful way to introduce the “problematic elements in otherwise fantastic stories as a product of their time”; and the “obtuse white fragility” conversations.
  • The lesson is loud and clear: Use your voice even if you don’t succeed the first time.
  • Eliza kills Dickens’ (apparently unwitting?) disgusting anti-Semitism with kindness, even influencing his last-published story:

OUR MUTUAL FRIEND: A bit patronizing, and infinitely less famous than OLIVER TWIST, but… downright progressive for the 1800s. I’ll take it.

Verdict

This book is exactly as cool as its premise sounds and comes highly recommended.

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