Monday, 4 January 2010

Christmas Reading

Have to admit I've spent quite a lot of time reading these Christmas holidays. That's the result of too little on the telly that I fancied watching. Once I'd seen the two new episodes of Cranford, The final Doctor Who episodes and the last Gavin and Stacey, I was looking for other forms of entertainment.

I had stocked up on books from the library before Christmas as I knew there wasn't exactly a blisteringly good TV schedule ahead. I managed to get about six Anne Perry books from the William Monk series about crime in Victorian England. I read a couple of them, then realised I had one missing so had to order it before I read the rest. I hate reading books out of chronological order. So while I was waiting for the next book to arrive I branched out into some other authors who had written books about Christmas.

Skipping Christmas - John Grisham

I feel a bit of a cheat writing about this book. Up front I’ll admit, I didn't get right to the end of it. I was interested in this story about a couple who try to skip the commercialism of Christmas and go on a cruise. However it wasn’t because of any sense of sadness that the true spirit of Christmas has been lost. No! It was mainly because of the cost and the fact that their daughter is away from home for the first time in Peru!

The book cover described it as hilarious. Well it certainly isn't what I'd call hilarious. I’m not sure whether it shows the difference between the American and British sense of humour or the fact that it's just inaccurate hype.

I managed to get through the first part of the book and words I hadn't a clue about like:

- layaway
- crunchy
- satellite lot
- fire lane
- sackers

I eventually got about three-quarters of the way through and was beginning to admire the tenacity of the Kranks, in not giving in to neighbours, friends and colleagues who were critical of them giving up a so called traditional Christmas. (Have to say I'd emigrate if my Christmas was remotely like theirs!) However once their daughter rang on Christmas Eve saying she was coming home for Christmas and they abandoned their cruise and started to rush about like raving lunatics, I just gave up. It was ridiculous. Anyone with a single brain cell in their head would have already told their daughter they were going away on a cruise and if they hadn’t, then they certainly would have told her there and then. Once I start to read something, I usually see it through. Not this time! It was just too stupid to waste my time reading it any longer.

I found it difficult to believe that this was written by the same person who wrote The Pelican Brief!

My other Christmas book was:

This Year it Will be Different - Maeve Binchy

Now I do like a bit of Maeve Binchy. I’ve read a few of her novels, generally on holiday and they’ve been light with interesting and likeable characters.

What I hadn’t realised was that this was a collection of short stories, so I was a little disappointed when I discovered that there were twenty two stories in this book. However it was a blessing today as I was looking after my granddaughter who doesn’t start school until tomorrow. So once I started to read it was quite useful to only have to concentrate for short periods at a time. Anyone who looks after a five year old girl will understand. You have to break off anything that you’re doing every ten minutes or so to help with spelling, singing, drawing, dancing, making drinks, straightening the tights after toilet visits, answering a million questions such as “Why haven’t you taken down your tree and Christmas lights?” and so forth!

I loved Maeve Binchy's assortment of stories, some humorous, other heartrending, but all interesting and thought provoking. Her myriad characters were interesting, not always likeable but many were delightful and I found I was disappointed that some of the stories were so short.. I wanted more! Always the sign of a good storyteller.

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