Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Autobiography of Fezziwig by Danny Kuhn

Some of the great advantages of being involved in a local author group (Beach Author Network) are meeting many amazing writers, reviewing their diverse works and being exposed to various books and genres that I might not ordinarily encounter if I were sticking strictly to my typical reading trends. I frequently find it an incredibly positive experience--hopping out of my comfort zone of typical literary proclivities, and I discovered that reading The Autobiography of Fezziwig was definitely one of those affirmative events.

Based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol character, Fezziwig, this is the tale of a man who was initially stripped of his entire existence as he had once known it. His station in life becomes incrementally elevated through the most unlikely circumstances, events, individuals, Providence and hard work.

From the coffeehouses of London to the fledgling business deals of Charleston, South Carolina, Fezziwig is a man of integrity. He is fiercely loyal to his employer and deeply cares about the employees, treating them kindly and fairly, unlike the typical 18th Century employer and even many modern day company owners and managers.

There are references to Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a very real individual, who managed three plantations at age sixteen in the 1700’s and proved that indigo could be a viable South Carolina cash crop. Fezziwig's dealings with her reminded me of another book I recently read entitled A Woman Rice Planter by Elizabeth Allston Pringle, who found herself owning seven plantations after the Civil War and told of her struggles and attempts to survive and prosper in a southern society, dominated by the male population.

The Autobiography of Fezziwig tells us how 18th Century business was conducted in London and the colonies and how travel from England was fraught with danger from storms, illness, tainted food, villains, boredom, enemies of war, and loneliness.

Written in the first person point of view, this story guides the reader directly into the experiences, inner thoughts and reasoning of William Fezziwig and the details of his interaction with some rather influential and famous characters. It also emphasizes that the raging conflicts in England during this time were relative to tightly intertwined religion and politics.

Stepping back in time as one reads this book is a satisfyingly intriguing experience! It’s like a history lesson that actually entertains, informs and invites the reader into the heart and soul of William Fezziwig. Danny Kuhn has captured a great glimpse of the challenges of life and family during that era and uses Fezziwig’s thoughts, conversations and actions as vessels to educate the reader.
Book Description

Dickens gave us only a glimpse of Scrooge's first employer, as a jolly old man who loved Christmas. This is the whole life of Fezziwig, an English businessman during the cusp of the Industrial Revolution who travels to colonial Charleston, South Carolina promoting his warehouse trade. Along the way, he befriends a young man named Washington, and returns to spend time in the London coffeehouses with the likes of Dr. Johnson and Erasmus Darwin. Even those meetings pale compared to his adventures afield with the irrepressible Benjamin Franklin!

 "A true look at a remarkable time, so full of historical facts and characters as to be totally believable as autobiography. It reminds us of the astounding array of scientific, literary, and philosophical geniuses rubbing elbows in the eighteenth century London coffeehouses, and of the social and political unrest of the day. As Fezziwig says, 'The only thing that outlives us, as our legacy, is the good we do for others.' Mr. Dickens would be pleased!"

In the words of Danny Kuhn

“The Autobiography of Fezziwig is my first novel, though I write a monthly column for a magazine back home (in West Virginia) and have had other periodical articles published. It takes a minor character from Dickens' A Christmas Carol and gives him a full life.  As a young man, he travels to the West Indies and Charles Town, SC  to further his warehouse trade, and, back in London, befriends an American agent there by the name of Benjamin Franklin. Along the way, he interacts with Samuel Johnson, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, and many other famous characters to be found in eighteenth century London.”  
Danny Kuhn
About Danny Kuhn

Danny was raised in the coalfields of Southern West Virginia, earned degrees at Marshall and West Virginia Universities. His career has included being a social worker, high school science teacher, and Federal Probation Officer. In 2010, he retired as Deputy Chief United States Probation Officer in West Virginia and relocated to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where he is a magazine columnist and training consultant for Connect with Danny Kuhn on Facebook!

Come on back in a couple of weeks, and you'll see another book and author featured. I love to highlight authors and their works. There are so many of us out there who strive to share our efforts, but the competition to be seen by a world of eyeballs is staggering. Thank you so much for visiting today!

Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect and From Italy with Love & Limoncello.

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