Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

Happy Christmas! Some Seasonal Book Recommendations

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The Hannah’s Bookshelf Christmas show was broadcast on Boxing Day on North Manchester FM. After festive shows about gifts and parties, this show was simply devoted to books set at Christmas time. You can listen again on the player below, but first a rundown of the books I discussed…

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

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Written in 1902, this American children’s classic tells the story of an orphan called Claus, who is brought up in the land of the Immortals. If you like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, then you’ll love this festive favourite.

Christmas Novellas by Anne Perry

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Historical novelist Anne Perry has published a series of seasonal novellas, the first being A Christmas Journey (2003) and the most recent being A Christmas Escape (2015). On the show I talked about A Christmas Secret, which is set in 1890 and tells the story of Dominic Corde, a curate who arrives in Cottisham to temporarily replace Reverend Wynter. While the village initially appears pleasant and welcoming, Dominic soon realizes that someone is hiding a dark secret. And I talked about A Christmas Hope (2013), which is in 1868 and features Claudine Burroughs, a young woman who escapes her stifling social life by volunteering at Hester Monk’s clinic for poor women. The latter book ties in with one of Perry’s earlier novels about detective William Monk, Execution Dock (2009).

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

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Okay… confession time… it’s been a few years since I read Straub’s 1979 novel, so I can’t remember if part of it is set specifically at Christmas, or just in the winter. But it’s a creepy book with a blizzard in it, so I’m going to say it counts. The story is told from the switching perspectives of four old men – the ‘Chowder Society’ – who come together to tell frightening stories from their pasts. As the stories unfold, the dark secret the binds the men to one another reveals itself and things begin to fall apart.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

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This book is probably better known via Christmas with the Kranks, the 2004 film adaptation starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Ackroyd. When their daughter Blair leaves to join the peace corps, Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip Christmas for a year and put the money they would’ve spent towards a luxury cruise. Suffice to say, their neighbours do not agree with this decision.

The Box of Delights by John Masefield

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Instant nostalgia trip for any children of the 80s! The Box of Delights was written in 1935, and was the sequel to The Midnight Folk (1927). When Kay Harker meets Cole Hawlings – a Punch-and-Judy man – he is entrusted with a box that leads him into a magical series of adventures. The book was adapted into a BAFTA-winning mini-series in 1984.

Tied Up in Tinsel by Ngaio Marsh

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Well… it wouldn’t be Hannah’s Bookshelf without a bit of Golden Age detective fiction, would it? This time it’s Ngaio Marsh’s turn. Tied Up in Tinsel (1972) is an Inspector Alleyn (Marsh’s series detective) novel. Agatha Troy – Alleyn’s artist wife – has been commissioned to paint a portrait by Hilary Bill-Tasman, and is invited to spend Christmas with the family while finishing the painting. Of course, there’s murder in the air – more so than usual, in fact, as the entire staff is made up of people who have served a prison sentence for murder. Classic whodunnit with a festive twist – well worth a read!

Merry Christmas!

To listen to my discussion of the books on this list, you can use the player here:

Hannah’s Bookshelf – 26/12/2015 by Hannah’s Bookshelf on Mixcloud

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