Review published on December 30, 2017.
From festive adverts to seasonal songs, Christmas is sold to us as a time of magic, wonder and joy, which indeed it can be, but as Rhodri Marsden explains ‘Christmas doesn’t always turn out that way’. So across the course of twelve chapters he explores the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the ‘tidings of discomfort and joy’ that make up a typical British Christmas, poking fun at all of the peculiarities of the season. In a delightfully fun move, his chapter titles allude to the Twelve Days of Christmas, replacing the lyrics with the theme of each chapter, from Twelve Gifts Unwrapping, Eleven Sherries Swigging, Ten Carols Screeching, Nine Journeys Trekking, Eight Channels Hopping, Seven Parties Dodging, Six Bargains Grabbing, Five Broken Limbs!, Four Appalling Burps, Three Spare Beds, Two Awkward Hugs and A Nice Fibre-Optic Tree. This journey through gifts, alcohol, seasonal music, Christmas travel, festive TV, Christmas parties, the sales, accidents and emergencies, Christmas dinner, hospitality, family and the Christmas tree does seem to sum up the festive period much more aptly than lords a-leaping or maids a-milking (although leaping lords and milking maids may well be very much in attendance in other households, just not mine). And the author’s own anecdotes are reinforced by a collection of comments from individuals throughout the book that shed light on their own Christmas experiences – some of which are poignant, but the majority of which are as curious and comical as everyone else’s. All in all, it’s this weird and wonderful quality that encapsulates the spirit of Christmas in this book and makes it both an engaging but also highly relatable book. Definitely one to read in the post-Christmas December slump.
Jade Craddock 5/-
A Very British Christmas by Rhodri Marsden
HQ 9780008256715 hbk Nov 2017
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