Archive for December, 2008


More Christmas Stories

December 26, 2008

While I was away on vacation, I read four more Christmas stories: Little Maid Marian, by Amy Blanchard; The Christmas Child, by Hesba Stretton; Rosemary, by A.M and C.N. Williamson; and The Romance of a Christmas Card, by Kate Douglas Wiggin. And I think I have a pretty good idea now of what a Christmas Story is supposed to involve.

First, and most obviously, there is the moral. There is no point to a Christmas story without a moral. Usually the moral has to do with forgiveness.

Equally important is the happy ending, although there is a way around this: if your story is really miserable, you can get away with an ending that’s a bit of a downer.

There also seems to be a sort of age requirement. Apparently, by the beginning of the twentieth century, it was no longer acceptable to write a Christmas story about an old guy. Sorry, Scrooge. The protagonist must be either a small and adorable child, or a young man or woman of about the right age to be falling in love.

Finally, as much of the story as possible has to be set at Christmastime. But not necessarily the same Christmastime. I think of it as the fourth classical unity. This has become one of my favorite things about Christmas stories. I really like it when they skip from one Christmas to the next, and then spend half of the second one recounting what’s happened during the course of the year. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Laughing Cavalier

December 25, 2008

I forget, now, whether The Scarlet Pimpernel was my first adventure novel. I’m pretty sure that I read it before The Three Musketeers, The Four Feathers, The Prisoner of Zenda, or Scaramouche (my first Sabatini). So there was this time when The Scarlet Pimpernel was the only great adventure novel I had read. And it coincided with a time in my early teens when I was just discovering the wealth of reading material available on the internet. And during that time, I came dangerously close to joining the online Scarlet Pimpernel fandom.

See, I found this website called Blakeney Manor, and they had the texts of about twenty Scarlet Pimpernel sequels and prequels. Which is, you know, a lot of books. For free. Somehow related to a book that I loved. And if the first one I read hadn’t been so silly, I might have read them all. So I’m pretty thankful that I decided to read them in chronological order, and that the one I started with was The Laughing Cavalier. Read the rest of this entry ?


Peace on Earth, Good-will to Dogs

December 15, 2008

If A Versailles Christmas-tide was only accidentally a Christmas story, Eleanor Hallowell Abbott’s Peace on Earth, Good-will to Dogs is it’s exact opposite. It is more emphatically a Christmas story than A Christmas Carol. It begins with the line, “If you don’t like Christmas stories, don’t read this one!” (I should add that, being by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott, it contains much unnecessary cuteness and a really emphatic use of exclamation points.) Read the rest of this entry ?


A Versailles Christmas-tide

December 11, 2008

A Versailles Christmas-tide

I meant to read and post about a whole lot of Christmas stories before I go on vacation, and I may yet, but schoolwork has got in the way, and so far the only one I’ve finished is A Versailles Christmas-tide, written by Mary Stuart Boyd and extensively illustrated by her husband, A.S. Boyd. Read the rest of this entry ?