As today is both Christmas Day and the last Friday of the year, I’m going to dive into Christmas with all three books. I have two collections of Christmas short stories written by two authors who have a long term passion for Christmas and stories and a Golden Age Mystery set in a Country House at Christmas. The perfect books to read while sitting next to the Christmas Tree.
Merry Christmas everyone.
‘A Lot Like Christmas’ by Connie Willis (2017)
I’ve been rediscovering Connie Willis by re-reading ‘Bellwether’ and ‘To Say Nothing Of The Dog’ couple of decades after I first read them. I’ve found that I’m even more attuned to her humour than I was the first time around so my main expectation of ‘A Lot Like Christmas’ is to be amused.
Connie Willis offers twelve Christmas stories, taking a whimsical or gently comic look at all the aspects of Christmas:
– All About Emily
– All Seated on the Ground
– In Coppelius’s Toyshop
– Cat’s Paw
– Now Showing
– Just Like the Ones We Used to Know
So far I’ve only read the introduction, which is amiable and friendly, and the first story, ‘Miracles’ which makes a strong case for ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ being a much better Christmas movie than ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and delivers a cute, towards the end perhaps too cute, rom-com Christmas tale.
‘Christmas Days’ by Jeanette Winterson (2016)
I picked this book up initially because I liked the cover and I was a little surprised to find a ‘serious author’ like Jeanette Winterson writing Christmas stories.
Then I realised that I was basing my impression of Jeanette Winterson on ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’, which I read in the mid-eighties along side Rita Mae Brown’s ‘Ruby Fruit Jungle’ and which I only dimly remember. I have her ‘Frankisstein’ on my TBR pile from last year’s Mann Booker but I haven’t gotten to it yet.
So, I looked through a copy of the book and saw that these where twelve Christmas tales, written by someone who loved the ideas behind the Christmas feast and that they included chatty little insights into the origins of the stories and what was happening with Jeanette Winterson when she wrote them.
I figure this will be a low-key introduction to an author who has a lot of interesting titles to her name that I haven’t read yet.
‘Tied Up In Tinsel’ by Ngaio (1971)
Ngaio Marsh is a New Zealand writer who wrote thirty-two crime novels between 1934 and 1982, featuring , Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn of the Metropolitan Police, as well as numerous plays and short stories.
I Roderick Alleyn for the first time when I read ‘Scales Of Justice’ the eighteenth book in the series, earlier this year. I was impressed. It was a smooth, well-written mystery that vivisected an England that was already curdling in 1955.
‘Tied Up In Tinsel’ is the twenty-seventh book in the series and was published sixteen years later. It calls to me because it sounds festive and it features Allyen’s wife, Troy in an active role. I’m hoping for a twisty mystery with a festive feel and some good banter between Troy and Roderick.