Cover image for Mr. Timothy : a novel
Title:
Mr. Timothy : a novel
Author:
Bayard, Louis.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
384 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780060534219
Format :
Book

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Call Number
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Status
Eggertsville-Snyder Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

Welcome to the world of a grown-up Timothy Cratchit, as created by the astonishing imagination of author Louis Bayard.

Mr. Timothy Cratchit has just buried his father. He's also struggling to bury his past as a cripple and shed his financial ties to his benevolent "Uncle" Ebenezer by losing himself in the thick of London's underbelly. He boards at a brothel in exchange for teaching the mistress how to read and spends his nights dredging the Thames for dead bodies and the treasures in their pockets.

Timothy's life takes a sharp turn when he discovers the bodies of two dead girls, each seared with the same cruel brand on the upper arm. The sight of their horror-struck faces compels Timothy to become the protector of another young girl, the enigmatic Philomela. Spurred on by the unwavering enthusiasm of a street-smart, fast-talking homeless boy who calls himself Colin the Melodious, Timothy soon finds that he's on the trail of something far worse -- and far more dangerous -- than an ordinary killer.

This breathless flight through the teeming markets, shadowy passageways, and rolling brown fog of 1860s London is wrought with remarkable depth and intelligence, complete with surprising twists and extraordinary heart.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Timothy Cratchit is Tiny Tim no more in Bayard's inventive updating of the Dickens character's life after Christmas Carol. Grieving his recently deceased father and attempting to free himself of the financial support of Uncle Ebenezer, Timothy (no longer tiny and free of his crutch) is living in a brothel, where he earns his board by teaching the madame to read. Mostly, though, he bemoans his mistreatment of his father, whom he ridiculed for his sentimentalized view of the world. Then young Timothy, hard-boiled wanna-be, encounters a 10-year-old waif, Philomena, and turns all gooey himself, desperate to help her avoid the gutter. Soon Timothy and another street urchin he befriends are attempting to expose a child-porn ring run by some of London's most powerful men. The transition from character study to historical thriller is a bit awkward, but Bayard drenches the reader in the underbelly of 1860s London and, in true Dickensian fashion, makes us care passionately about the fates of his characters, even to the point of overlooking an improbable turn or three. A first-rate entertainment. --Bill Ott Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Nov.) Forecast: Like Charles Palliser's The Quincunx, this book will be embraced by Dickens devotees and many others as well. Riveting storytelling and the Christmas Carol connection could make it a holiday hit. Five-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Mr. Timothy is Tiny Tim Cratchit, all grown up and not too much the worse for wear save for a pronounced limp from his childhood disability. This spin-off reveals what happens after Ebenezer Scrooge reforms at the end of A Christmas Carol and the curtain goes down on the Cratchit family in improved circumstances. It is now Christmas in 1860, and Timothy, bedeviled by his father's ghost, has temporarily taken up residence in a brothel, where he earns his room and board by giving reading lessons to the proprietress. The Dickensian cast of characters includes Colin the Melodious, as artful a dodger as ever was, and Philomela, a young damsel in distress whom Timothy sets out to rescue from a pedophile ring run by a titled villain and his slash-happy henchman. If you have not had your fill of ghost-ridden heroes, needy orphans, and foggy nights in cobblestone streets, this sequel-with its breakneck plot, colorful characters, and the reappearance of Scrooge and the Cratchits-will fill the bill. This Christmas Carol for the new millennium is highly recommended.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Mr. Timothy Chapter One Not so tiny any more, that's a fact. Nearly five-eight, last I was measured, and closing in on eleven stone. To this day, people find it hard to reckon with. My sister Martha, by way of example, wouldn't even meet my eye last time I saw her, had to fuss at my shirt buttons and stare at my chest, as though there were two dew-lashed orbs blinking out of my breastbone. Didn't matter I've half a foot on her now, she still wanted to be mothering me, and her with a full brood of her own -- six, last I counted -- and a well-oiled husband gone two nights for every night he's home, why would she want more bodies to tend? But she does, and old habits, and let the woman have what she wants, so on this last occasion, I dropped to my knees and looked straight at the sky with that look I used to have, it comes back in an instant, and I sang "Annie Laurie." And Martha laughed and boxed my ear and said Out with you, but I think it pleased her, remembering me smaller, everything else smaller, too. The iron brace was bought by a salvager long ago, and the crutch went for kindling shortly after -- quite the ceremonial moment -- and all that's left, really, is the limp, which to hear others tell it is not a limp but a lilt, a slight hesitation my right leg makes before greeting the pavement, a metrical shyness. Uncle N told me once to call it a caesura, but this produced looks of such profound unknowing I quickly gave it up. I now refer to it as my stride. My hitch-stride. A lovely forward connotation that I quite fancy, although I can't honestly say I've been moving forwards, not in the last sixmonth. But always better to leave that impression. I never think of the leg, truthfully, until the weather begins to change. I'll know it's spring, for instance, by the small ring of fire just under the right buttock. Fall is the dull, prodding ache in the hip joint, and winter is a bit of a kick in the knee. The whole kneecap sings for three or four days solid, and no amount of straightening or bending or ignoring will stop the music. It's winter now. The twelfth of December, to be specific, a date I am commemorating by staying in bed. I can't say bed rest does the knee any better, but if I lie still long enough, the knee merges with the rest of me and dissipates. Or perhaps I should say everything else dissipates; I forget even how to move my arm. Many years ago, a doctor with violet nostrils and kippery breath informed my mother that the paralysis in my leg would, left untreated, rise through me like sap, up the thigh and the hip, through the lower vertebrae, the breastbone, the lungs, to settle finally in the heart itself, little orphan bundle, swallowed and stilled forever. Being just six, and possessing an accelerated sense of time, I assumed this would happen very quickly -- in three or four hours, let us say -- so I made a special point of saying good-bye to Martha and Belinda because they were rather nicer than Jemmy and Sam, and I told Peter if he wanted my stool, he could well have it, and that night, I lay on my pallet, waiting to go, pinching myself every few seconds to see if the feeling had vanished yet. And I suppose after all that pinching, it did. only a matter of time, then, before the heart went. I lay there listening in my innermost ear for the final winding-down, wondering what that last, that very last beat would sound like. Well, you can imagine how alarmed I was to awake the next morning and find the ticker still jigging. Felt a bit cheated, if you must know. And perhaps by way of compensation, I've been dreaming ever since that the longawaited ending has at last come. I dream I'm back in Camden Town, except now I'm too big for everything: the stool, the bed, the crutch. Even the ceiling crowds a little, I have to stoop or lean against the wall. My feet are rooted to the ground. The sap is rising. I've already lost the feeling in my hands, the last draughts of air are being squeezed from my lungs, and my heart is thumping loud enough to wake the dead-and I realise then that the heart doesn't shut down at all, it keeps beating long after everything else has stopped, it's a separate organism altogether, and in a fury of betrayal, I grab for it, raking my fingers along the rib cage, and my lung squeezes out one last accordion blast of air, and that's when I cry out. I'm never sure whether I've actually cried out or whether it's part of the dream, but it always leaves me feeling exposed in some deep and irreversible fashion, so I must spend the next five minutes inventing plausible excuses for the neighbours who will come pounding on my door any minute, demanding an explanation. The neighbours never come, of course. I have the great fortune of sleeping in an establishment where loud cries are part of the ambience. indeed, in Mrs. Sharpe's lodging house, one might scream "Murder!" several times in quick succession and elicit nothing more than indulgent smiles from the adjoining rooms. Murder here being simply another fantasy, and fantasy being the prevailing trade. The only person within earshot of me most nights is Squidgy, the droopshouldered, hairy-eared gentleman with a tonsure of white hair who comes three times a week to be punished for the infractions he committed in public school half a century ago ... Mr. Timothy . Copyright © by Louis Bayard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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