Saturday, 15 December 2012

Book 85 of 2012: The Abbot's Ghost or Maurice Treherne's Temptation, A Christmas Story

At the beginning of November, wanting to get into the spirit of Christmas, I did a little search for free Christmas ebooks for my Kindle. I wasn't expecting to find a huge number of books, but it turns out that there are quite a few. I decided to go ahead and download all the ones I could find and sorted them into alphabetical order by author to read in between my proper book-books.

The first of these was The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation A Christmas Story which is by Louisa May Alcott. I was quite pleased that this was the first for me to read because I really enjoyed Under the Lilacs when I read it earlier in the year.

It follows a group of characters who come together for the holiday. The character of the title, Maurice, has been injured in an accident while protecting his cousin. He should have been the heir to a fortune but the money instead has been passed to the cousin he saved. His other cousin has been helping to nurse him, and in a slightly Downton Abbey-esque move has sort of fallen in love with him. He's fairly in love with her too, but her mother has convinced her not to go for a crippled man and so the only way he's going to get the girl he loves is if he can learn to walk again.

This book was a lovely little quick read. It's only 66 pages long, so it doesn't take very long to get through. I think I started it first thing in the morning before work and then finished it off in bed that night. I could have quite easily read it in just a couple of hours had work, NaNoWriMo and Open University course work not gotten in the way!

It was a suitably festive book. Exactly what I was looking for. It's set around Victorian times in the run up to Christmas so the focus wasn't entirely on Christmas, but it did get a little mention here and there. In fact, as the story built up, Christmas became more important to the story. To begin with I honestly thought there had been a mistake as it didn't seem very Christmassy at all, but it all worked very well in the end.

To begin with I was a bit confused about who was who and what was going on at the start. The story sort of jumps right into the middle of the action when everyone is gathered for the traditional family get-together, so lots of things are just explained as they go along. As confused as I was at points in the beginning, it certainly kept me reading and everything was revealled as the story continued. By about half way through I knew what was going on and all the confusion had gone away.

Normally I'm not a fan of ghost stories, but the fact that this was written by Louisa May Alcott kind of reassured me that this couldn't be anything too bad. It was a little bit creepy, especially the part of the story where they share ghost stories. For a long time I couldn't understand why the Abbot's Ghost got a mention in the title because it didn't seem to fit into the story at all, then around the middle it becomes a big plot point.

Like Under the Lilacs, there's a bit of a moral story here. I suppose part of that is due to the period that it was written in. Normally I read A Christmas Carol each year and I think that this book fits into a similar sort of category. I think that it might be one I'll have to revisit in the run up to Christmas in the future.

""Pity, with women, is akin to love, and she pities her cousin in the tenderest fashion. No sister could be more devoted, and as Maurice is a handsome, talented fellow, one can easily foresee the end, if, as I said before, no one interferes to disapppoint the poor lad again.""
Location 27

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