Review published on December 31, 2017.
Each year a raft of Christmas books appear from mid-October and I either end up reading them outside of the festive period or not at all, but by some quirk of timing, this year I managed to read Nina Stibbe’s An Almost Perfect Christmas on Christmas Eve – which as far as I can tell is the absolutely perfect time to read a festive book. Indeed, unless you don’t mind reading about Christmas in July, these books tend to have a limited shelf life, so if like me you often don’t read them in the short festive window, they lose a lot of their magic. But An Almost Perfect Christmas proved to be a Christmas Eve delight. The book is a bite-sized read, so easily manageable in a few hours, and split into short chapters covering all of the Christmas necessities from turkey to Christmas correspondence, all of which is delivered in a light-hearted spirit that is just the ticket to counter the madness of the period. Although I’m not familiar with the author’s other books other than by title, she is a very natural and witty writer and easy to enjoy. She captures the comical nuances of the various traditions that make up a typical Christmas, and although the majority of the chapters seem to have an autobiographical bent, I did wonder if the author had sprinkled a liberal helping of hyperbole into the tales. Nonetheless, this only adds to their appeal, and I must admit I found the couple of short stories that are included in the book much less entertaining and a bit discordant. However, overall this is exactly the sort of festive offering that will bring readers some much-needed light relief and Christmas cheer – though if you didn’t get chance to read it this December it may be best suited to next year’s festivities.
Jade Craddock 4/-
An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe
Viking 9780241309827 hbk Nov 2017
A Very British Christmas by Rhodri Marsden
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