Full disclosure, I was provided a copy of this book by the author or their representative, however, have voluntarily chosen to write a review. All opinions are my own.
Before the Miser
Belle Endicott lives with her father in their button-making shop. Having lost her mother several years earlier Belle keeps her father company and is comforted by the spiritual communion that her work allows with the departed. When an eager businessman approaches her father regarding his operations, the partnership becomes more than a mere business proposition as Belle and the young Ebeneezer fall in love. Side by side the duo forms a dynamic partnership that incorporates her father’s business into the young Scrooge’s larger factory operations. But with Belle’s father’s health ailing and when Ebeneezer’s factory is threatened by another competitor, the duo will face their hardest test to their relationship to date. The result will set the stage for the future. It is a future the duo never foresaw, but one the entire world is familiar with.
Written as a speculative prequel to Dickens’ beloved “A Christmas Carol”, author Keith Eldred has crafted a tale that is as familiar as it is unique. Written from the perspective of a bespoke button pilfered by a love-struck youth to remind him of his beloved, the reader is introduced to a young Ebeneezer Scrooge. While just barely a man, he is no less, driven, diligent, and full of passion not only for his dear Belle but also to succeed and transform into the mogul that he dreams to be. Watching Ebeneezer interact with Belle and Arthur helps to humanize what is otherwise historically known as a heartless tyrant who only cares about the coins in his coffers. But even so, to the astute reader, the signs of the person to come are still there. With appearances by other familiar names and faces, Eldred has conceived a prequel that not only tells the back story of the main character but also sets the stage for the overall story that was the inspiration for this book. Part romance, part tragedy with a hint of supernatural and small doses of comedy The Red Button is a very enjoyable read and a perfect addition to any readers’ library. This is not the first “origin story” of famous Christmas time characters that I have read, and it probably won’t be the last. While all of them have their charms and are unique in their own ways, The Red Button for me was probably the best one to date and one that I will most likely read again and again.