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This was an interestingly odd, off beat and at times charmingly engaging collection of stories. The book starts with the author's fascinating overview of the history of Christmas--something I really enjoyed. Then, the collection alternates between a short story narrated beautifully by Church and a short feast chapter read by the author. Winterson uses a very conversational style with the stories and recipes that make up the feast portions of the book. I loved her chatty advice about cooking and all her wonderful back stories about UK Christmas celebrations that went with the feasts.
My favorite of the short stories was the first in the collection, titled the Spirit of Christmas. This was magic filled and was so well written that it made me want to read more of Winterson's non-Christmas writing. For me, this chapter also made the whole audiobook worth the price of admission when grouped with the feast chapters.
Now we get to the odd part, the part that caused several friends to quit the book with a shudder. I hate spoilers but I do have to warn you that the author included a fair number of very scary, creepy ghost stories in the collection. At first, I thought she was following along with a Dickensian theme of ghosts at Christmas time with a Christmas message. In reality, the ghost stories were set at Christmas time, but often were not really about Christmas. It's hard to explain, and I'm still unsure about some of the stories.
I'll be honest, I skipped through several chapters and occasionally just listened to the feast sections. This was definitely not a book that I would suggest for family listening during the holidays--a bit too strange. I think in the end the theme may have been about putting things right at Christmas time, but that's just a guess.
I plan on listening again next year and maybe then I'll get through every story. Recommended if you like ghost stories or if you are willing to take a chance on something unusual. Just keep in mind that you might have to skip a few parts here and there.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
This book 's tales are autobiographical (I think) and are truly inspirational, although some "holier than thou" types may feel apoplectic. I laughed heartily, wept unashamedly, finished feeling the enduring love and good will to all that make Christmastide . The recipes are for experienced cooks - those who create delicious food by instinct rather than measuring cup. In the end, it left me wanting more, as a good book should.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful