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19th Century

Of course it’s Louise May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ – with the wonderful Jo March (who should have married Laurie) being a splendid role model for any aspiring writer who also likes to have a romance in her life. Curl up with it – sip tea and eat a warm mince pie and know that everything turns out fine.

No Christmas list complete without Dickens – the man, they now say, who invented Christmas – but not ‘A Christmas Carol’ – ‘The Pickwick Papers’ has a wonderful Christmas chapter – logs a-blaze, punchbowls and goodwill to all men (and women, I hope). Read it and you will instantly feel warm on the snowiest of nights.

And the humour and fun (and romance) of Anthony Trollope’s ‘Christmas at Thompson Hall’ – with lovely Christmas delights and people falling in love – amusing and happy. That’s what we need.


Margaret Atwood’s rewriting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest ‘Hag Seed’ is a very good one to settle down with – her usual beady eye and her usual humour and irony mix into a very satisfying read for the Christmas period. Or failing that ‘The Heart Goes Last’ which is fun, and should make you think twice about the world of robotics.

If you want a snow-bound whodunnit, Martin Cruz Smith’s ‘Stalin’s Ghost’ should crack it for you. Moscow is snowbound, the ghost of Stalin appears on the underground – and Arkady Renko – whom you may have fallen for in ‘Gorky Park’ all those years ago, is back and just as out of kilter with his superiors as ever.

And, of course, there must be an English Country House murder mystery – so pick a Christmas Agatha Christie – ‘Hercule Poirot’s Christmas’ where a nicely savage murder and a suspiciously unmournful family gives the detective a bit of a problem.

Short stories are A Good Thing at Christmas, and Jo Jo Moyes ‘Paris For One’ should do it. Just enough time to read a couple of the stories in between feasting and drinking bouts.

And for the brains – there is always the ‘Penguin Book of Puzzles’ to work off some of the fat surrounding the little grey cells. Or to make that irritating know-all in the family pipe down.


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