BOOK & BLOG
December 14, 2010
Books of the Week:
As you might surmise from the title, Never After is a collection of fresh takes on old fairy tales by some great writers. Though all of these were entertaining, I believe I enjoy Sharon Shinn’s “The Wrong Bridegroom” the most. This would be a great Christmas present for a fairytale fan. Though the cover says “from today’s most provocative authors” these stories aren’t “provocative” in the sense of being overtly sexual but they are thought-provoking.
I’ve known Richelle Mead for a few years now, and I have admired her determination and success. We had a filmed interview together, since we’re both Penguin authors. Her YA Vampire Academy series has sold like hotcakes internationally, and if you’ve been following it, you’re going to have to read Last Sacrifice. It’s the conclusion of the series, and you’re going to have to find out who the impulsive and brave Roza chooses as her lifemate, and even more importantly, how she gets cleared of the charges that she murdered the queen. Mead ties everything together admirably in this action-filled last book.
I read old mysteries from time to time as a way to get back to my roots. Ngaio March, a New Zealand author who was one of the best of the best in the thirties and forties, is most famous for her Roderick Alleyn books about a patrician detective from Scotland Yard who falls in love with a painter, Agatha Troy. Alleyn has a faithful sidekick, Inspector Fox, who is as paternal and plebian as Alleyn is high-strung and aristocratic. In Death In a White Tie, one of Alleyn’s friends is murdered in a cab after a debutante party, so Alleyn has to deal with all kinds of high society types in his attempt to solve the case. A classic.
I really, really, don’t want anyone else to ask me if I’m ready for Christmas.
I’m never ready for Christmas, at least in the practical sense of having all my arrangements made, groceries bought, house clean, decorations up.
I’m always ready for Christmas in the sense that I’m always delighted to have my children home together under one roof, my husband off work, and the sound of my family stirring around the house.
The past few years, Christmases have been a bit unhappy, a bit jumbled. My mother’s failing health meant she couldn’t come to us at Christmas, and I had no siblings any longer to be with her, and we travelled up to her place. We wanted to be with her, and we were; but we also wanted to be at home. Now we will be at our own house, but we will miss her. Not a day goes by without my thinking of her, and that’s as it should be.
That’s just one transition out of the several we’ve endured since we’ve been married. We used to haul our kids between my husband’s family and my family every Christmas, though we frequently made our kids miserable with all the driving. Now that we know better, we’re out of that loop. Our kids don’t have infinite time off any longer, and they have their own plans. It’s harder and harder to get my husband’s siblings together, and getting the whole family together would be well-nigh impossible.
I know in years to come, my kids will have their own spouses and those spouses will have their own Christmas traditions and their own “have-tos.” In fact, this may be the last Christmas I get to have all my kids together! You never know!
Christmas is full of traditions, but it seems to me that those traditions are always changing, as I look back on all the Christmases I can remember.
So don’t ask me if I’m ready! I never am; and I always am.
© 2010 Charlaine Harris