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Mr. Timothy: A Novel Paperback – October 26, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Tiny Tim is back! No, not the squeaky-voiced troubadour who tip-toed through tulips in the 1960s, but the original--Timothy Cratchit, the crutch-wielding tyke from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Only now he's a "mostly able-bodied" 23 years old, resides in a London whorehouse in exchange for tutoring the madam, struggles to wean himself from financial dependence on his ancient "Uncle" Ebenezer Scrooge, and, as we learn in Louis Bayard's darkly enchanting historical thriller, Mr. Timothy, is haunted by the spirit of his late father--a man whose optimism and strength the son feels himself incapable of imitating.

When we first encounter Timothy, during the Christmas season of 1860, he's vexed by the discovery of two dead 10-year-old girls, each branded with the letter "G"--one found in an alley, the other fished from the Thames River by Cratchit and a voluble old salt who makes his money by finding (and then robbing, of course) errant corpses. Timothy's concern leads him to protect a third possessively marked waif, the frightened and suspicious Philomela--who, he soon realizes, is being sought by a knife-loving former Scotland Yard inspector and a moneyed, malevolent voluptuary. When, despite precautions, Philomela is kidnapped by her pursuers, Cratchit--assisted by a shrewd warbling urchin known as Colin the Melodious--resolves to fulfill his "great calling" in life by mounting a rescue. However, this mission will force the habitually uncourageous Timothy to not only defend himself against sexual molestation charges, storm a well-guarded mansion, and solve the puzzle of a coffin-filled basement, but also engage in a nightmarish final chase along London's docklands.

Authors employing real-life characters as detectives are often hampered by their adherence to historical fact. Bayard suffers no such limitations in imagining what fates awaited Dickens's now-famous fictional figures. Under his pen, Scrooge--whose rooms are decorated for Christmas year-round--becomes an eccentric collector of fungi and host to an interminable stream of charity solicitors, while Timothy Cratchit strikes out beyond his lonely young man status to become the head of an unconventional clan. Bayard's appreciation for the lurid exoticness of Victorian London rivals that of John MacLachlan Gray (The Fiend in Human), while his lyrical prose subtly suggests 19th-century influences. Mr. Timothy is at once a compelling Christmas crime yarn and an audacious literary endeavor. No humbug there. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Bayard's first two novels (Fool's Errand; Endangered Species) were contemporary romantic comedies, a far cry from his third, an audacious and triumphant entertainment that imagines the post-Christmas Carol life of Tiny Tim, transformed from an iconic representation of innocent suffering ("the iron brace was bought by a salvager long ago, and the crutch went for kindling") into a fully realized young adult struggling to find his place in a cruel world. Having lost his parents and become estranged from his remaining family as well from as reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Timothy Cratchit has found a niche in a brothel as the tutor to its madam. Haunted by his failure to connect with his father, as well as by his father's ghost, Timothy has developed a thick skin to guard against the oppressive misery endemic to 1860s London. His defenses are penetrated when he encounters Philomela, a 10-year-old waif who has been mysteriously abused. With the assistance of a singing street urchin called Colin the Melodious and a maimed retired seafarer, he pursues the source of her torment and its connection with another child whose branded body was dumped in an obscure alley. The quest becomes more quixotic when evidence points to the aristocracy, abetted by a corrupt police force, but with Philomela taking an active role, the quartet narrow in on their target. With surprising but plausible twists, and a visceral, bawdy evocation of Victorian London, Bayard has crafted a page-turner of a thriller that is elevated beyond its genre by its endearingly flawed hero for whom nothing human is alien.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Perennial ed. edition (October 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060534222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060534226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By enubrius VINE VOICE on November 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As readers or, like myself, avowed non-readers of the various novels that purport to be sequels to the great novels (think "Scarlett") can attest, it is usually a fool's errand to attempt such a thing. But, once in a great while, o.k., probably never before, someone pulls off the trick. That someone is Louis Bayard. Mr. Timothy is, as we realize early on, none other than Tiny Tim Cratchitt, all grown up under the, probably less than we expected, tutelage of his "Uncle" N (for "neezer). He is, at 23 trying to find himself after a life less than splendid, by taking up living quarters in a brothel in the seedier section of London (No, don't bother re-reading that. You read it correctly the first time.) Into his life comes, among other things, a child thief not unlike a certain "dodger", a frightened (and with good reason) 10 year old Italian girl, several corrupt policemen, a one-handed body retriever, a "Columbo"-lik detective, and some of the most horrendous villains ever written. All of this is recounted in almost magical prose, with a period feel that few other modern authors even approach. "Mr. Timothy" may not be anyone's original idea of how "A Christmas Carol" might continue, but it is absolutely true to the realities of the time and place in which it occured. Indeed, its portrait of London and its people are nothing short of Dickensian. Read this, savor it, and then... readit again!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a risky and difficult task to take on a famous piece of literature. Everyone who falls in love with a book likes to imagine how the story continues after the author decides to leave it. A writer who challenges a reader's imagination does so at his own risk. Failures are legion. But that is just what Louis Bayard has decided to do with Mr. Timothy, a novel based on characters from Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
As the title suggests, the story focuses on Tiny Tim Cratchit, now grown-up and healthy except for occasional twinges in the leg and a slight limp. Despite the support of the still living and reformed Scrooge, Tim is cast adrift upon the death of his father, Bob, and has thrown his lot in with a group of prostitutes where he earns his room & board by teaching the madam to read and write. While there, he becomes entangled with a young, troubled girl. In the process of trying to save the girl he discovers a ring of slavery and murder.
It's quite a plot!--not original but deftly handled and interesting mainly because of the risks he takes with character. Here are characters we know--the Cratchits, Scrooge--who Bayard has made his own without losing touch with the foundations Dickens has laid. Despite the happy ending we might have imagined at the end of A Christmas Carol, Bayard has not hesitated handing around death, weakness and despair to the Cratchits along with strength and goodness. He is not catering to his readers but challenging them, particularly rabid Dickens fans like myself, and he succeeds. Whatever I ultimately felt about the plot, I totally believed that this is what could have become of the Cratchits. Because of that, I enjoyed this novel immensely.
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By A Customer on November 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tiny Tim is tiny no longer. He is a twenty-three year old man who no longer needs a crutch to walk. The only sign of his childhood malady is a pronounced limp that hurts at certain times of the years. Haunted by his father's death, he has distanced himself from the rest of the Cratchits and even his uncle Ebenezer Scrooge. He lives in a brothel teaching the madam how to read and when his money runs out, he looks for treasures to be found in the Thames River at low tide.
One day he finds the dead bodies of two young girls that have a brand on their upper arm, the same type that he saw on a dead child in a London alleyway. When Philomela, a ten year old girl, comes into his life trying to escape a wealthy and powerful aristocrat, Timothy finds that to keep his own humanity he must rescue her from those who branded her and put them out of business.
This dark Victorian Gothic is a moving and powerful tale of where good and evil resides side by side in London of 1860. Louis Bayard has written an outstanding morality thriller that has Mr. Timothy risking his own life, time and time again to help a poor and helpless orphaned girl who is already hardened by the knocks life has thrown at her. Timothy finds an unexpectedly ally in a street smart urchin who is wise beyond his years and refuses to let the evil that lurks around each corner get a grip on him.
Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Timothy Cratchitt, now fully grown with his crippling childhood infirmity reduced to a limp and a chronic ache in bad weather, is sadly mindful of his financial dependence on his uncle. Somewhat disappointed in himself for that, he lives in Mrs. Sharpe's brothel, earning his room and board by teaching the madam of the house how to read. He and his dear friend, Captain Gully, scrape together spending money by trolling the Thames for lost treasures and even by recovering the corpses of the odd suicide or murder victim. With the help of a brash, resourceful young street urchin, Colin the Melodious (who also happens to be an exceedingly talented boy treble), Timothy rescues Philomela, a terrified young Italian orphan girl, on the run from an unscrupulous aristocrat who runs a brutal child sex/slavery ring. Using Timothy's powerful and eloquent first person narration, Bayard pulls us relentlessly through a deeply atmospheric Victorian crime story that, oddly enough, will charm readers at the same time as it thrills and horrifies them.

The charm arises out of Bayard permitting us to witness Timothy's personal growth as he sadly comes to a realization that, as a young crippled boy, he was entirely self-centred and self-pitying, unaware of his father's strength, self-sacrifice and intense devotion to his family. In an obvious reference to Mr. Timothy's forerunner, Dickens' Christmas Carol, Bayard uses the device of ghostly sightings of Timothy's father and conversations or letters to his deceased father to reveal Timothy's contemplations on his personality, the realization of the magnitude of his losses, the maturation of his relationship with his surviving family members and his uncle "Neezer" and, ultimately, the release of his father's spirit to its final happy rest.
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