Bookish Discussions

Mini Reviews | Christmas Edition:



Happy holidays! I hope your day is filled with chocolate yule logs, cosy jumpers and lots of books (I know mine will)!

I thought I’d bring you my own gift: another blog post. Lucky you! As it’s Christmas, I thought I’d quickly discuss two recent holiday reads that you might enjoy.

Let’s get into them…


Round the Christmas Fire: Festive Stories by various | 2 stars:

I had such trouble with this book. I bought Vintage’s Dickens at Christmas last year, and wanted to save this for this year. However, when I came to buy it, it was out of print. I searched everywhere – the cheapest I could find it was £30. I then, somehow, found it for £17 – umm and arhh for ages – and someone else bought it! Abebooks then sent me an email a few weeks later saying another copy had been added for £17, so I quickly swept it up. I wasn’t letting it out my sights this time!

It’s a collection of short Christmassy stories from the likes of Charles Dicken, Edith Wharton, M.R. James, P.G Wodehouse, E. Nesbit, and so on. It only took me a day to read (I mean, I did skip some of the stories because I had already read them before, but still that wasn’t a lot). What I liked most about this collection, as opposed to Dickens at Christmas, was that they were all festive. They all evolved around Christmastime. It put me into such a jolly mood, whereas the other did the complete opposite.

Saying this, there were some stories I didn’t like. For example, I skipped Stella Gibbons’s Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm because I had read Cold Comfort Farm previously and disliked it. I assumed I wouldn’t like this either, so I read a few pages and then skipped it. Despite this, there were a couple I really liked, like Wharton’s short, Gothic story about a haunted house. It actually managed to creep me out, which was new. I definitely want to try some more Wharton now (A House of Mirth put me off her, but I’m willing to try again).

Although this wasn’t my favourite collection, I enjoyed roughly half of the stories, which is pretty good for me. I’m not too keen of short stories, so I expected to have that reaction. I definitely think others will enjoy it more than me, though!

Mr Dickens and his Carol by Samantha Silva | 2 stars:

I had my eye on this last year, but forgot to buy it before Christmas, so I thought I’d save it for this year as well. It’s a fictional reimagining of how Dickens wrote his famous story, A Christmas Carol. Dickens should be looking forward to Christmas, but when his latest book is a flop, his publishers give him an ultimatum. Either he writes a Christmas book in a month or they will call in his debts and he could lose everything. He has no choice but to grudgingly accept…

Don’t get me wrong, it was an endearing tale. Heart-warming and cosy feeling, but it was also a huge cringe. I couldn’t get over how badly Silva depicted Dickens, and I felt like she forced his character to fit the mould of her story. It felt nothing like Dickens. Also, it was a story full of conveniences. I know Silva was trying to imagine how Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol, but she didn’t have to switch Dickens for Scrooge and re-write his story. It just didn’t work, and felt very forced in some areas. I wanted something new.

I get that this is a ‘love letter’ to Dickens, as Silva states in her Author’s Note, but it doesn’t stop it from being cringey and unbearable at times. I didn’t like how Dickens treated his wife, didn’t like how weird the whole situation was, and I felt like the homeless men were really random and forced? Don’t get me wrong, some elements were really interesting, such as the story of the little orphan boy who was alone at Christmas, but most of it was utterly ridiculous.

I couldn’t make heads-or-tails of it, unfortunately, and for that reason it was a favourite. I probably wouldn’t recommend to someone, unless they like cheesy stories!

I hope you enjoyed these reviews, now go and enjoy your food! Happy holidays!

What’s your favourite Christmas book?

Thanks for reading, Lauren X


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