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19 Jan 2022

5 festive books to read to get into the Christmas spirit

5 festive books to read to get into the Christmas spirit

5 festive books to read to get into the Christmas spirit

Indulge in a bit of festive fun with these seasonal releases…

Fiction

1. The Perfect Christmas Gift is published in paperback by HQ. Available now

Christmas-obsessed primary school teacher Bella has the perfect life. A boyfriend she loves, an adorable cottage in a quaint country village – this is what she thought life was supposed to be. She was settled and comfortable, until she arrives home one day to find her boyfriend packing his belongings to move in with another woman. As Advent ticks down, Bella throws herself into helping the less fortunate in her village and forms a close bond with her next-door neighbour Nick and his young son Freddie. Will this festive season be a wash out or can they find peace with each other? Katie Ginger quickly sets a warm tone in her writing and you are soon sucked into the emotional roller-coaster that Bella finds herself on, as she tries to dig herself out of her depression and build up the community around her. Your Christmas wish will be the story doesn’t end quite so soon – it’s a heart-warming tale just right for the season.
8/10

2. A Scandinavian Christmas: Festive Tales For A Nordic Noël by Hans Christian Andersen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Selma Lagerlöf & Vigdis Hjorth is published in hardback by Vintage Classics. Available now

A Scandinavian Christmas: Festive Tales For A Nordic Noël by Hans Christian Andersen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Selma Lagerlöf & Vigdis Hjorth
(Vintage Classics/PA)

This Christmas collection brings together a strange and beguiling series of stories, penned by Scandinavia’s literary greats, spanning three centuries. The old classics shine brightest: the pitiable match girl left to battle the freezing cold alone on a winter’s night; the steadfast and brave tin soldier, slowly pooling into liquid silver in the fireplace, along with his true love. These are married with stories from the last 20 years – a drug-filled escapade leading to a pair of friends dug out of a makeshift ice cave after they fall asleep in the snow; two fathers teaming up to delight each other’s children with festive cheer. The tales are laced with a melancholy that characterises the piercing stillness of a December night. Beautifully decorated, this is a hardback any household would be proud to have adorn their coffee table.
7/10

3. The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan is published in paperback by HQ. Available now

One of the joys of December is cosying up under a blanket with deliciously cheesy Christmas chick lit. But while this tale of unexpected romance, friendship, and secrets – and the setting of the Northern Lights – sounds promising, it falls a bit flat. The Christmas Escape focuses on Christy Sullivan, whose marriage is in crisis. She asks her long-time best pal, Alix, to take her daughter, Holly, on a holiday to Lapland, so she can have some quality time with her husband, before joining them for Christmas Day. Alix agrees, but then discovers Zac – Christy’s husband’s best friend, who she has a tricky past with – will also be joining. Alix and Zac’s dynamic with Holly makes for some cute moments, and Morgan weaves in some intriguing revelations about Christy’s family history. But the way many of the characters communicate is frustrating, and it feels repetitive at times. Overall, there wasn’t quite enough in the plot for it to be a memorable festive read.
5/10

Non-fiction

4. At Christmas We Feast: Festive Food Through The Ages by Annie Gray is published in hardback by Profile Books. Available now

Annie Gray’s book is dedicated to Christmas food from the fourth century to today, complete with recipes from every era. Not all will make your mouth water (the Tudors had a weird affinity for mixing sweet and savoury dishes, even adding actual meat to their mince pies), but it’s an enlightening study of how Christmas dinner – something that seems so solid and secure – has dramatically changed over the years. It’s as much a social study as it is a food book, with Gray conscious to note how different classes did Christmas over the years. While interesting, it’s perhaps too dense – there are too many details and Gray assumes a lot of knowledge of historical figures who aren’t necessarily household names. It might have been better if Gray described dishes from each period, rather than giving the actual recipes – it’s hard to imagine us cooking boar on December 25. The most surprising aspect of the book isn’t some weird tradition from bygone years – it’s actually learning Gray had pizza for Christmas dinner last year.
6/10

Children’s book of the week

5. The Christmasaurus And The Naughty List by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Shane Devries, is published in hardback by Puffin. Available now

The Christmasaurus is back for another thrilling adventure in the latest instalment of the blue dinosaur’s missions from Tom Fletcher. In a magically crafted tale, with some brilliant illustrations from Shane Devries, the daring Christmasaurus sets about righting the balance between the Nice List and the Naughty List. Fletcher knows just what appeals to the reader and brings the main character to life with his colourful descriptions of how the dinosaur bids to balance the scales, so Santa can deliver presents on Christmas Eve. Children are bound to be thrilled by this series of stories where kids are nudged in the right direction, filling the reader with the magical feeling that abounds at this time of year.
9/10

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