Okay, so it might not be the Christmas season this VERY moment, but the turkey is going to get served up in five days and then some people are going out to get their shopping done, so I am calling it. It is time for books for Christmas.
I don’t mind that the shops have had Christmas things since the end of Halloween. I don’t know why people post memes on Facebook about how it is not time for Christmas and how reindeer babies die or something if you put up your tree before Thanksgiving. Christmas is a season of love and light. Let it go on as long as people can stand it. If someone wants to bask in the glow of joy and goodwill for as long as they can, let them do it.
Enough of my rant. I have been looking into seasonal books this year to get people in the mood. Please note that this is somewhat of a sacrifice for me because a lot of Christmas books are unapologetic chick lit. I have seen this term denigrated because it implies that it is second class literature because it panders to women, the second sex as it were, but I still like the term. Women’s fiction, chick lit, whatever. There are books that are written to specifically to enchant women. And that is okay, I just sometimes don’t enchant the same way other women do, I guess.
I did find some non chick lit holiday stories too. Before we get into the chick lit, I want to talk about the first of the two old school Christmas books for these posts:
Old Christmas, Washington Irving
Better known for Legend of Sleepy Hollow, my anthology of Washington Irving, procured when I was a bookins addict, has a novella about his experience of an old school English Christmas. Like, the schoolboys coming home from boarding school in the coach, an English squire who tries to keep his existence anchored in the good old days of yore, the itinerant confirmed bachelor flirting with the newest nineteen year old bloom allowed to the adults dinner at the table on Christmas Eve, everything. More of an account than an actual story, I think this short work is valuable, especially to the anglophile. Everything is bright and fun when Christmas is celebrated old style. Interesting for me to read this right after finishing Brideshead Revisited, discussing how England is really changing during the period between the wars, and how of course some are trying to hold onto the good ol’ days. And I bet you did not know that Irving wrote about Christmas.
So, something a little more modern was a two novella collection I picked up from Joanne DeMaio, Wishing on Snowflakes. Her two books are Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, and Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer.
DeMaio has written a number of other novels with titles suggesting coffee and the beach, and after reading these two more seasonal novels I came to realize that they are all centered in the same place, a seaside town in New England called Addison. The places and the characters overlap between the tales, making me think of Jan Karon series of Mitford. If you like Mitford, you will like this.
Both of the stories here start in the fall in New England, which if you are going to have New England as your setting, I think it is a safe assumption that they love to read about the fall. Addison is highly seasonal: Pumpkin and Scarecrow Festivals, a boat lighting ceremony around Christmas, etc. As the fall progresses into the winter that everyone seems to love there (I love a good snowfall when I am not stuck driving home in it), two couples find each other and find love again, culminating in a Christmas romance. There is a lot of coffee, baked goods, supportive parents, ankle boots, earrings, and creative hobbies. These two books are not just about Christmas, although both of the female protagonists make a career out of the Christmas season in the end. They are about adults finding love in this season of redemption.
Not a lot of tension, some conflict, but these are not intense, high stakes novels. They are fun novels designed for diversion and transport. They are designed for comfort and supporting family and home.
I liked the second novel better. The male character was more developed and there was more humor in it. The biggest challenge to love is his getting over himself and allowing himself to try for love again after a failed engagement. I kinda wanted ex fiancee to reappear for one last bid at his heart, but maybe the author thought that was too cliche or intense for what her books are about.
The female protagonist was actively trying to get her creative groove back and was doing creativity encouraging activities that her artist mother set her out to do, and I love reading about the creative process. It was a bit Artist’s Way. It was less about finding love for her and more about finding her creative self. So that made it a little more fun for me.
And there is a seriously eligible Dr in these books who goes unclaimed at the end of both. I don’t think that is a spoiler because neither woman, in my perception, really was ever seriously considering him. Doctor husbands are probably nice in theory but I think in reality they are never home and highly disorganized. But he needs to find love too. Maybe his story is coming/has already been resolved in another story of hers. I root for Greg.
I am working on all of Dickens’ Christmas novellas for my next post. The end of the year posts will be about how the Reading Challenges panned out and what my reading plans will be in the following year, which I have. I am in a blind dash to finish the last few Reading Challenge books while reading seasonal novels for blogging. I do enjoy this. Really.
Comments/shares/likes? Let’s spread the love and light and then seriously let’s get 2016 over with. It seems like everyone I know has their own reason for feeling this year was a total bust.