Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Books 81 & 82 of 2015: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien & Christmas, A Happy Time by Alicia Catherine Mant

I've reviewed The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien so many times on this blog that there's really no reason to do it again.

But I'm not going to let that stop me.

That's what the edition I read last year looked like. It's Tolkien's own illustration which I think is wonderful because it gives you a glimpse into the way that he saw the world he created.

It took me a really long time to read this book because I read it during the time that I lost the twins. On the one hand I didn't feel much like reading and on the other hand it was comforting to visit a place I've been visiting since I was six years old. I retrod the same paths I've been walking over for over twenty years and I was surrounded by familiar faces.

The downside to this is that rereading it again in the future is probably going to make me feel a little sad because now my Hobbit memories will feature a new set of memories. I'm going to have to make sure that next time I reread this it's during a positive time to balance out the sad with some happy.

This edition does seem a lot thicker than many of my other copies (with the exception of my full illustrated one, which obviously has lots more pages and lots more pictures). I didn't realise why until I got close to the end; it has the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring in it. I always feel torn when books do that. I want to read the book from cover to cover and I feel compelled to keep going, but I also want to stop when I get to the end of the story. It's always a tough call.

What with the films, I do find myself picking out specific scenes and quotes which are used in the films. I also find myself expecting things which are in the films only, like I was waiting for Radagast to show up on this read through and felt a little surprised (momentarily) when I realised he wouldn't.

By the time I finished The Hobbit we were well into December and I was ready for Week 47 of the Reading Challenge: A book set at Christmas. Well, I love nothing better to dip into a Christmassy book in the run up to Christmas, so I dug around on my Kindle and found Christmas, A Happy Time or to give it its full title Christmas, A Happy Time, A Tale Calculated for the Amusement & Instruction of Young Persons by Alicia Catherine Mant. Snappy title!

It was a fairly short little tale about a family of children at Christmas time. The boys have come home from school and the girls are excited to have their brothers back for the holiday season. I honestly remember very little about this book after all this time, and searching on Goodreads hasn't helped refresh my memory as apparently no one else is admitting to having read it!

It's definitely a product of its time. At points it comes across as both sexist and classist. On the one hand, it's pretty funny but it's also sad as well. There's a bit where the children want to give their clothes to the poor and their mother tells them not to because they must dress as a reflection of their father and besides, to give their nice things to the poor wouldn't help them. It's a story about knowing your place in the world, and staying there.

I managed to read this book in about half an hour before work, which was part of the reason why I picked it, I wanted to get caught up on my reading and short books were the best way to do that.

While it did annoy me, often, it was a nice little Christmas read and felt suitably old-fashioned which seems to go hand in hand with a Christmas story. I couldn't help but be reminded of Little Women with the girls in the story and the way they behaved.

I wouldn't say it was a bad book. It's probably worth a read, especially with Christmas approaching.

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