Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

skipping christmas

Waterstones Synopsis

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded shops, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on the street without a rooftop Frosty the snowman; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences – and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined. A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that has become part of our holiday tradition.

I have only read a couple of John Grisham books, which I have enjoyed, and even though this is not his ‘classic’ work, I really enjoyed this book too. In Skipping Christmas Grisham looks at the madness that Christmas has become – throwing huge parties, drunkenness, spending heaps of money, and the ridiculous decorations. He looks at the idea of just not participating in this game, and the reactions people have to that idea. And he did it so well.

This book is very funny. From a practical sense I can see why someone would be tempted to miss out the celebration – especially in the case of the Krank’s, when they were paying over $6000 on the holiday. I think Grisham is writing a brave book here because people do spend a large amount of money and he seems to be questioning if that is OK. I think he did it very well – although as lovely as the ending is I think he wimped out a bit. That said – parts of the ending were just hilarious, especially the incident with Frosty…

I liked the Krank’s, I found them very likable and enjoyable to read. I found myself feeling very sorry for them when they were seemingly victimised, especially by their neighbours. I also laughed along with them, and panicked when the phone call from their daughter came. I really connected them, and that made the book even more enjoyable.

This book is 200 pages long, and I read 150 pages in one sitting. It is quick, funny and hugely enjoyable. This is a really good Christmas novel. With a slightly different ending this would get tops marks.

8/10

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The Chimes by Charles Dickens

Synopsis from Amazon.com:

The second of Dickens’ Christmas Books, The Chimes recounts the tale of a poor day laborer, Toby Veck. Like Scrooge, Toby is guided by a specter through the scenes that refocus his views of Victorian London with all its “stern realities.”

This is not as well known as A Christmas Carol, and not as popular either back when Dickens was writing. I can see why, and actually I preferred A Christmas Carol too – however, that is not to say this is a bad book. It is not by far. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It is another short story, one which I read in a day. In this story we meet Toby Veck. For the first half of the book he is looking for work and listening to those in wealth speak and seeing just a glimpse of their life. In the second half, he sleep walks up to the Great Bells, where their chiming guides him through a life where is dead and has left his daughter Meg to struggle through.

This book would act as a good historical source because Dickens is not scared to write London as the poor see it. He is explicit in the hardships he portrays – things such as death, drunkenness and of course, poverty. It was heart wrenching to read of these horrendous lifestyles, but that was how it was in Victorian London if you were on the lower end of the wealth spectrum.

Dickens writes in a magnificent way. He is descriptive and captivating. The words flew off the page at me and I was sucked in to what he was writing. I was gripped. I did think that Dickens spent too long on the introduction of Toby’s life however.

He writes lovely characters too. I loved Toby. He was an old man struggling for work, and when he saw the hardships Meg had to endure his heart broke – and I really felt his anguish. And I loved Meg. She was bubbly and caring – and their relationship was very loving.

Although not as famous as A Christmas Carol, this is a very enjoyable Dickens novel. It is short, fast-paced and gripping.

8/10

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Synopsis from Amazon:

Ebenezer Scrooge, whose name is now synonymous with greed and parsimony, believes Christmas to be ‘humbug’. Refusing to donate any of his fortune to the poor, he comforts himself by saying, ‘I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.’ But then the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley, returns from the grave to haunt him. Dragging a long and heavy chain, representing his mant sins, Marley sends down the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future to warn scrooge against a similar fate…

This is an extremely well known story, and there have been many adaptations of the book, however, I would heartily recommend people read the book. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book, which I loved right from the beginning. Dickens is engaging, and writes in such a descriptive way I felt like I was there with Scrooge on his journey. Dickens looks at family, Christmas, community, poverty, wealth and personality, but in a light-hearted and engaging way. However, a message is conveyed throughout the book – don’t be miserable, selfish, rude and tight-fisted towards those in need.

My favourite character was probably Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. He was full of life, able to stand up to Scrooge, and embraced him as a family member even though Scrooge did not want to be accepted.

There is so much that can be said of this book, many issues raised, a whole life looked at and of course Dickens as a writer. I think he tactfully looks at poverty vs. the rich, and makes a point that people with money should be sharing, and that life would be better for those in need, and those in ill-health if charity was given. My favourite period in Scrooge’s life was probably when he was a young man, an apprentice, full of life and fun. Had he kept on that road, his life would have been full of family, community and happiness. And as for Dickens, he is wonderful writer and I can find no faults with this book, I loved it.

10/10

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