Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A London Christmas (Marina Cantacuzino)

--The blurb--
""A London Christmas" is an anthology of seasonal memories compiled from journals, novels, poems, local traditions and historical events, illustrated with over forty photographs and engravings. Diatribes against seasonal excesses mingle with celebrations of a more benevolent kind - best illustrated by Charles Dickens in "A Christmas Carol". In this book you will find everything associated with Christmas in London through the ages from the fifteenth century when festivities were overseen by a Lord of Misrule, to when the Puritans attempted to abolish Christmas, through to Norway's annual gift of a Christmas tree and the bravery of Londoners spending Christmas under the threat of the Blitz. A wealth of fictional characters help to celebrate the joy of the season from Mr Pooter in "The Diary of a Nobody" to the tale of a shopping spree in London in "Diary of a Provincial Lady"."

--The review--
When Christmas comes I love to savour it for as long as possible. While there are plenty of seasonal compilations out there to choose from, this certainly strikes me as being an ideal accompaniment which can be enjoyed throughout December. 

The word 'enjoyed' is certainly key here: this is a collection to be savoured rather than devoured. This is certainly not a criticism, as it means that A London Christmas can serve as a companion for weeks on end. The selections are well-chosen and transport the reader successfully to Christmases gone by, although the extracts are on the whole rather highbrow and extremely traditional, so definitely more for those who prefer their literature to be more in a classical vein. 

In spite of the beautiful illustrations, this anthology appears to be relatively little-known. It therefore perhaps gives off an impression of being a little too serious, and something that you have to work at to read rather than something you can read for relaxation, and while one might struggle to read it all the way through at once without losing focus, the extracts are short enough for one to be able to pick the collection up and put it down at leisure. It can therefore be enjoyed in any way that you see fit as the festive season plays out, with new secrets and details tucked within its pages for you to discover and rediscover with every Christmas that follows.

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