Ok, so this is a bit like when an unexpected relative or guest turns up on your doorstep, days after the main event, and you’ve already started packing away the tree. But I’m a sucker for a book tag, and I love lists, so please excuse my tardiness. If it helps, I’ll finish off those toffees which have been left in the tin.
Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real. What book release(s) are you most anticipating?
I’m in for the long game here – as in next Christmas or even beyond that … I’m desperate for Hilary Mantel to complete her Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. I’ve loved the first two novels and I need to have the third one in my hands.
Christmas Songs and Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing its praises?
An easy one – I discovered Dorothy Whipple’s novels thanks to the beautiful editions republished by Persephone Books. It’s fair to say that I love their entire catalogue, but Whipple is in a class of her own. I read Someone at a Distance about ten years ago and was blown away by Whipple’s narrative voice and her characterization of a family in difficulties. She does quiet devastation, and gentle optimism, like no one else. Her other works turned out to be just as brilliant.
Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?
Another easy one – I’m currently following the #TheDarkisReading tag on Twitter, set up by Robert Macfarlane and Julia Bird. Hundreds of people have been reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising since Midwinter’s Eve. I’ve raced through it and have started again – I first read it as a child and then re-read the whole sequence on holiday in Cornwall about ten years ago. I love the shifts in time that Will undertakes in this novel and Cooper’s narratives are rooted in an British landscape that is both familiar and other-worldly. Having walked a ‘holloway’ this summer, the idea that our countryside is full of ‘old ways’ is enough to send an enjoyable shiver through me when I’m reading.
A Christmas Carol: Favourite classic or one you want to read
Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. This is one I haven’t read yet – but have meant to for some years. I’ve now forced the point by including it on a Reading Challenge that I have made public. I will read this book in 2018!
Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas?
Thankfully (for all concerned in the transaction), I did receive a book I was hoping for. The hints beforehand were so heavy that I was fairly confident that it would be under the tree. I have loved Edward Lear’s verses for as long as I can remember and Jenny Uglow is one of the best biographers I’ve read. It’s also a very beautiful book. Now I just have to hope that there aren’t going to be any disappointing revelations!
Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling?
I think I’d have to go for a re-read of any of Malcolm Saville’s Lone Pine series, written between 1943 and 1978. They’re of their time, in terms of language and attitudes, but I’ve got my dad’s editions and that adds another element to my love of the series. They’re also damn good adventure stories.
Christmas Trees and Decorations: What are some of your favourite book covers?
A lovely question! So many to choose from – here’s a few! Now I’ve put them together, I’ve realized I have a certain taste in autumnal monochrome…
Christmas Joy: What are some of your favourite things about Christmas and/or some of your favourite Christmas memories?
My favourite things are advent calendars, Christmassy drinks, trying to choose ‘the perfect present’, lights and candles.
So there we go – I hope you all had a very lovely Christmas, wherever you are. Happy New Year when it arrives!
I’m tagging the following people – but I appreciate the season is now drawing to a close and there may not be time for posting!