So, I feel like Christmas came with a bit of an explosion with the snowstorm two weeks ago now that gave us over a foot of snow to make it look like a holiday. And then it’s been cold, too, so at least there’s a big holiday coming up to ease the crash in of winter. I am writing by the lights of the Christmas tree, always a favorite for the end of the year posts!
Also, yesterday was the local school breakfast, tree lighting and parade for my local town. I took my son to see a local musical production of Elf last weekend and he loved it, and we went sledding in some additional snowfall together. He loved it. Christmas tempts to me to over mom, but then I have a perfectly happy boy just doing what we do.
I decided to stay home with him Christmas week because he asked this year. Two full weeks of break is a long time for him to be at the Y and if I stay home and get him started playing with his Christmas toys, those will be the memories he will look back on. I hope.
But Christmas reads! I noticed my views have definitely gone down this month. I don’t have as many readers interested in Christmas reads, or this time of year gets too busy? Feel free to let me know. I try not to focus on stats, but as a Psychologist I rarely see a trend without asking why. I’d love feedback.
This week is Christmases that took place in the past! Not exactly ghosts of Christmas past, but past holidays. And two authors, interestingly, that I have long been meaning to read.
Christmas Bells, Jennifer Chiaverini
Different Christmas plotlines converge on a point: the Christmas eve concert in a Boston church, as well as a historical plotline of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, Christmas Bells. The plots involve a family waiting to hear from a missing soldier, a teacher who will be laid off at the end of the school year, a man wanting to tell a long time friend about his true feelings for her, a Senator’s wife dealing with the death of her husband. Longfellow deals with the strife of living in Civil War America with a son anxious to serve the Union. Things end up okay for everyone, because this is a Christmas book, after all.
Chiaverini is one of my hoarded authors because she does the historical fiction, which I love, but it’s the first one of hers that I have actually read. This book is about how hope and the spirit of the season don’t change through time. Even the darkest of times. I like interwoven plots and hearing the stories of the characters, shifting around when one plot becomes intense, and of course, the stories converged beautifully. I didn’t know if the Wadsworth plot line would more directly connect with the modern line, other than Wadsworth being local Boston, but it still worked. I’m looking forward to reading more of hers.
Do I need to say that this was not one of the lighthearted reads I also review? And it isn’t a romance novel. But it’s about Christmas and I love that.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Agatha Christie
A family long estranged from one another gets together at the behest of the family patriarch at Christmas. When the unlikeable man is murdered with everyone in the house, it is up to Hercule to use his powers of deduction to determine whodunnnit.
Now the only thing Christmas about this book is that it takes place on the days around Christmas and the holiday is the pretense for the gathering. It’s really for the victim to have a chance to anger all his children in one place one last time. That’s the only thing Christmas about it. Not even the cover is Christmas.
It’s surprising that this ended up being my first Agatha Christie novel, as I have read most, if not all Nero Wolfes and she’s a pretty classic writer. And I try to get the classic authors in. But also last year was my first time reading James Patterson and David Baldacci, through their Christmas reads. It wasn’t unexpected, a bunch of people getting together and telling parts of the story and then Hercule using his magic of deduction and noticing detail to get to the culprit. I listened to it because the library had it on audio while driving to see my friends after Thanksgiving and I tried to hang on to the details but they are so subtle I never saw the end coming. Which I suppose is part of Christie’s artistry, but I also don’t typically guess mystery novel outcomes. Nero never got predictable. He has at least one Christmas short that I have read and that’s much more Christmas themed. I should find it and revisit it for Christmas reads! Because Rex Stout branches much more into the yule theme than Agatha Christie does.
Next week is one more helping of the Christmas reads, with Santa coming midweek, and then it’s the end of the year and I actually have one BookRiot category left to post on. Believe it or not, and then it’s into my different goals for the upcoming year. Not BookRiot this time. Even though I have looked over the 2020 list. Hint: it has to do with getting back to my joy.