Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Book 88 of 2012: A Christmas Greeting, A Series of Stories

A Christmas Greeting was a free ebook that I downloaded from Amazon because you can never have enough books featuring Christmas stories. It was just a short little thing, only 85 pages, which I probably could have read in a day had I not started it last thing at night and struggled to get into it.

It features about seven stories which are told in the standard Hans Christian Andersen style. If you’ve ever read any of his other story collection, you’ll understand what I mean by this. Some deal with people but many of them feature animals or inanimate objects (like a tin solder or a lamp light). I’d got it expecting the usual fare but happening at Christmas, but instead it’s really just a small collection of his stories, probably originally published around Christmas time, hence the name.

Some of the stories were a little bit weird. There was one about a couple of rare snails who adopted a common garden snail as their son, then they found him a mate and died, and another about a family of swallows where the mother dies and one inherits the nest and is killed in a fire and the others meet up in a rose bush much later. They were whimsical but didn’t really have much of a point, you got to the end and were left wondering what the point of it was.

Most of the stories did have a strong moral or religious message, like the story of the red shoes which a girl spent all her time thinking about in church and ended up cursed to wear them and dance until she has her feet cut off. I remember reading that one in a collection a couple of years ago and thinking how gruesome the stories were, this time I found myself thinking more about the messages about church and things which seemed quite strong in this collection. Perhaps that’s why they were chosen for a little Christmas book.

There was the story of the Little Match Girl which I’ve always thought of as being a Christmassy sort of story (mainly because a variation of it features in Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather) so I was surprised when I was reading it to discover that it’s actually taking place on New Year’s Eve. The Red Shoes was also something of a favourite (probably because it’s quite dark and scary for a children’s story) and also Little Tuk because I like how he puts his school book under his pillow to help him learn the lesson, it’s something I used to do when I was much younger, hoping that the information would just leak out into my head during the night.

While I was reading this collection I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, I guess books like this were a strong influence in the writing of that so it’s not a huge leap to that. Of course, thinking of that made me want to read Harry Potter, so I guess I’ll have to dig those books out now.

He therefore put his geography-book under his pillow, because he had heard that was a very good thing to do when one wants to learn one’s lesson; but one cannot, however, rely on it entirely.
Location 650

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