Monday, 5 January 2015

Short Christmas Stories Review & #ayearinbooks 2015

Every once in a while I think it's nice to read something quick to get that buzz of finishing a story, and particularly around Yuletide as it means I can get in a lots of Christmasy reading done in the brief festive period.

I have a weakness for reading Mills & Boon at Yuletide, for which I am not going to apologise, yes Mills & Boon tend to follow the same style of plot, and yes they always have a happy ending but is that such a bad thing, especially at Christmas, anyway each to their own, so my first two short stories come from Mills & Boon Christmas Journeys.

Photo courtesy of GoodReads

A Man to Live For by Emma Richmond

'As far as Francine was concerned, she and Giles Lapotaire were strangers thrown together by chance on a romantic train journey through Europe.  Why then did the handsome French-Swiss banker seem to know so much about her - and despise her for it?'

Francine is feisty, and has no idea why Giles dislikes her and cares even less or so she would have him believe.  Giles is debonair but he also has completely the wrong idea about Francine.  Of course in the true sense of Mills & Boon the friction increases, the tension builds and the two main characters push and pull again each other like the wheels on the railway track.  Despite being published in 1994 this story had a really modern feel to it and I really liked the characters and the setting.  I'm a sucker for romance on trains, anyone for Brief Encounter...

Yule Tide by Catherine George Published by Harlequin Books

'Judith's marriage to Nick Campion had been brief and turbulent.  But, two days before Christmas, she found herself making her way to her childhood home with her estranged husband.  The journey was destined to be stormy-and not just because of the terrible weather!'

I was left confused by this story, Nick wanted Judith to give up work after they married and become a full time wife and mother but Judith wants to continue working and has no plans for any children, this is one of the reasons they marriage breaks down. However at the end of the book Nick is quoted as saying 'So if you want to ... have a dozen babies...' - unless I skipped a few pages I have no idea whether Judith changed her mind or Nick is having delusions!  On the positive side, Christmas at Longhope Farm is the idyllic sort of Christmas depicted in cosy films, and Mills & Boon books.  :-)

My other choice was from Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers; The Story of the Goblins who Stole A Sexton from Everyman's Pocket Classics Christmas Stories.

Photo courtesy of GoodReads
Publisher: Everyman's Library
Gabriel Grub, an inhospitable, cruel and cynical sexton, goes to dig a grave on Christmas Eve. He rests to take a drink and is surprise by the king of goblins, who accuses him of being a nasty, spiteful man. Gabriel is shown is sins by the goblins in an underground cave, who also happen to give him a good kicking!  They also show him scenes of merriment and goodness.  The next morning he is a converted man, leaves the area for ten years and returns a changed man.

This is a gruesome but funny tale, the main character is similar to Scrooge and the story runs in the same sort of vein as A Christmas Carol i.e. selfish grumpy man turns good.  Again I don't think this is a bad thing, I'm a huge fan of A Christmas Carol, but what I really loved about this tale was the language, it's almost musical in the telling and who knew that goblins had a playful side, 'and whole troops of goblins, ... began playing leap-frog with the tombstones ...'  and isn't Gabriel Grub just a fantastic name for a mean-spirited little man.

The Everyman's Pocket Classics Christmas Stories is full to bursting with tales from old faithfuls such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Anthony Trollope, Muriel Spark and many others.  As the festive season is now well and truly over :-( I doubt I shall read anymore tales until the 1st November 2015 (which is when I always start my Christmas reading) but I'm thoroughly looking forward to curling up towards the end of the year with this gem of short stories.

Last year I met my goal of reading a book a month, and am again taking part in #theyearinbooks to read a book a month, although this year I have decided to increase my target to 15 in the year and shall be tracking my progress on Good Reads.  If you want to join in with #ayearinbooks please visit the Circle of Pine Trees web here and, if like me you want to track your progress, please visit Good Reads.

Oh, and I'm not sure if this is cheating but my January read will be one I started, but failed to finish last October, The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith aka J K Rowling.

What have you been reading, or what do you plan to read?

Creative Blessings. x

1 comment:

Helen said...

I love the idea of reading short stories on a theme :) I have to confess I haven't read a Mills and Boon or a Charles Dickens novel, big gaps in my reading!!