The Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas (HC)

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Gorey has never been funnier or more “impossible to resist” ( Boston Herald) than in this peculiar retelling of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. 

Edward Gorey's first book in 25 years, The Haunted Tea-Cosy is a classic work from that magnificently morbid master. The plot of this "dispirited and distasteful diversion for Christmas" revolves around one Edmund Gravel, an Edwardian Scrooge whose attempt to slice a stale fruitcake unleashes an assortment of guilt-inducing ghosts. There's the Spectre of Christmas That Never Was, who directs our hero's attention to a cowering orphan in a graveyard (along with some other, lower-key bits of pathos: "In the high street of the village Reverend Flannel lost his tuning-fork.")

The Spectre of Christmas That Isn't also chips in with a kidnapping, a domestic dispute, and a return to the aforementioned graveyard: "To the south, in the cemetery a wrong coffin in a newly dug grave was found to contain rolls of used wallpaper." Like the Dickensian miser upon whom he's based, Gravel is transformed by this ghoulish guided tour. He renounces his life of solitude and invites all of Lower Spigot to a party, featuring "a cake taller than anything else in the room, a conflation of Chartres Cathedral and the Stupa at Borobudur iced in dazzling white sugar" (not pictured, alas). Gorey's illustrations for The Haunted Tea-Cosy are looser and less elaborately cross-hatched than some of his earlier creations. But like the text, these oddly stilted and very Anglophiliac scenes remain a model of delicious, deadpan hilarity. --James Marcus

From Booklist: Famous humorist Gorey, in his first book in 25 years (though it was previously published in the December 21, 1997, New York Times Magazine), offers his interpretation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's the tale of one Edmund Gravel, known as "the Recluse of Lower Spigot." As Gravel prepares to take tea by himself one Christmas Eve, he is visited, in turn, by the specters of Christmas That Never Was, Christmas That Isn't, and Christmas That Never Will Be. Gravel, moved by their visits and the visions they extend to him, throws a party for the town, an occasion when things "were carried to the very edge of unseemly." End of story. As always, Gorey's illustrations are the real draw. His human figures and weird creatures, at once stilted and animated, amuse and titillate us. He is always popular; expect demand for this special little book. Brad Hooper

"A master of a genre of graphic storytelling [and] a brilliant draftsman." -- The NYT

"Dark masterpieces of surreal morality . . . beautifully depicted." -- Vanity Fair

Mr. Gorey could, no doubt, conjure perversely sinister chuckles from an antimacassar, but a tea-cosy serves just as well. No Gorey admirer should overlook this "Diversion for Christmas." -- The Atlantic Monthly, Phoebe Lou Adams

About the Author: Edward Gorey (1925-2000) wrote and illustrated such popular books as The Doubtful Guest, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, and The Headless Bust. He was also a very successful set and costume designer, earning a Tony Award for his Broadway production of Edward Gorey's Dracula. Animated sequences of his work have introduced the PBS series Mystery! since 1980.

  • Author: Gorey, Edward
  • Brand: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Edition: First
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Condition: New
  • Number Of Pages: 64
  • Release Date: 31-10-1998
  • Package Dimensions: 7.3 x 6.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Languages: English