Great Christmas Expectations

Blog in France is a lady with llamas who left Ireland to live in France and has organised a Christmas BlogHop which I am delighted to participate in, including a give-away, just leave a comment to be in the draw to win Paul Durcan’s book and do visit the fabulous blogs participating in this festive foray linked at the end of this post.

I’m sharing favourite Christmas reads and the first book that came to mind that has been my favourite since I heard the author read an extract at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 1997, is Paul Durcan’s Christmas Day.

Christmas Day is a 78 page prose poem that reminds us in a humorous way of those who won’t be sharing a traditional Christmas, whether by choice or because they find themselves far from family and friends, and of the traditions we partake in and even when we don’t, that seem to resonate within us anyway.

In cities across the world

I like sitting in churches doing nothing.

I like going to communion:

Standing in line and catching

Glimpses in night skies

Through x-rays of clouds

Of the thin white moon of the host.

The moment I took the decision

Not to go to Mass

I could feel life returning into my body,

My empty cistern filling up,

The Holy Spirit gurgling inside me.

It is a funny, subversive, somewhat melancholic conversation between two men – Paul and Frank who spend Christmas in Dublin trying to make it something, but not quite getting it right. It will have you laughing out loud, nodding your head in acknowledgement and realising the importance of reaching out to at least one person this Christmas.  Not only it is a terrific read, but I was so enamoured with his performance, I bought audio versions as gifts for family, his delightful Irish voice, much a part of the experience for me.

He is unafraid, masterful and exactly what this world needs more of: wild abandon, wild love and sheer mad genius. Alice Sebold

120912_2017_GreatChrist2.jpgMy children’s favourite Christmas story and one that I was asked to read to the class in English comes from The Magic of Christmas storybook. All the stories are great, but their favourite, and a word they just loved to hear repeated is Ridiculous.

Ridiculous is a story about a young tortoise who doesn’t want to hibernate in winter, she decides to go outdoors after her parents have settled down to sleep and explore the snowy surrounds.

She meets a duck, a dog, a cat and a bird, all of whom exclaim and repeat the same thing:

“Whoever heard of a tortoise out in winter?”


Shelley the tortoise disagrees, but discovers she can’t break the ice to get food like a duck, keep warm by running around like a dog, crawl into a nice warm house like a cat, or fly off home like a bird.

My own favourite children’s Christmas story, doesn’t require reading at all, at least it has no words.

120912_2017_GreatChrist5.jpgRaymond Brigg’s delightful The Snowman, is an all-time classic picture book and celebrates the power of the imagination and the wonder of childhood, as a boy builds a snowman and then goes on a night-time adventure with him into the world to places he has never seen.

120912_2017_GreatChrist6.jpgAnd finally, to the book I will be curling up this Christmas. Have you already chosen your festive literary escape?

Last year, I remember losing myself in Abraham Verghese’s wonderful Cutting for Stone and I’m hoping that The Night Circus will do the same for me this year. If not, it might even be a reread of The Snow Child, which was my favourite read of 2012.

So leave a comment if you wish to be in the give-away for a copy of Paul Durcan’s Christmas Day and have fun visiting all the Christmas Bloghop participants below, many of whom are also offering give-aways.

Blog in France Bloghop

A Flamingo in Utrecht
Expat Christmas
Word By Word
Vive Trianon
Fifty Shades of Greg
Books Are Cool
Perpignan Post
Jive Turkish
Very Bored in Catalunya
Life on La Lune
Scribbler in Seville
Blog in France Christmas
Les Fragnes Christmas
ReadEng. Didi’s Press
Steve Bichard .com
Edit My Book
Zombie Christmas
Christmas in Cordoba
The best Christmas blog ever
The Christmas Surprise.
Sci-fi Writer Jeno Marz
The best Christmas quilting blog ever
Painting in Tuscany
The Business of Life…
Funny tweets
we’ve got a new house but no stuff and it’s Christmas
Paris Cheapskate
What about your saucepans?
When I Wasn’t Home for Christmas or Celebrating
ShockWaves Launch Party
The French Village Diaries
Melanged Magic
Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France – An English Girl in Granada
Bordeaux Bumpkin
French immersion
Callaloo Soup
Grigory Ryzhakov
Piglet in Portugal
Beyond MÃnana
Chronicles of M Blog

40 thoughts on “Great Christmas Expectations

    • I’m really looking forward to some undisturbed time to get into it, ‘Bel Canto’ I attempted twice and for some reason never quite finished. Will be interested to know what you make of it and whether I should try again 🙂


  1. Hi! I’m so pleased to have found your blog. I’m an avid reader myself and am always looking for inspiration. Am reading Kate Grenville’s two novels on early life in Australia at the moment – The Secret River and Sarah Thornhill – and am really enjoying them. Happy Christmas!


    • It’s been a great year for Australian woman writers, culminating in the launch of the Stella Prize which I will be watching with interest in 2013. I’m currently reading M.L.Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans’ another new successful author from downunder.


  2. I’m not a fan of poetry in general, but this one I can see myself enjoying a lot. The Snowman was a staple of Christmases here as a child, and it’s still nice to watch it on the TV. Enjoy The Night Circus, it may not technically be a Christmas book, but it’s grand enough for it.


      • Well at this point not so sure. I’d like to read The Casual Vacancy, The Night Circus, or The Diviners, but I have some reviews to get up actually 4. One is the Night Before Christmas told for adults so it’s short. I’ll just have to do the best I can. Went to the kiné for the first time this afternoon so getting back into walking. Gosh it’s liberating but a little painful!


        • All I want for Christmas is my two walking legs back! Good luck with that, some rehabilitation required for sure. Have heard/read mixed things about Casual Vacancy and don’t know The Diviners. I’m just looking forward to three consecutive days of not working and starting to read again.


  3. I’ve got The Night Circus too, I bought it last week when I was in England but my real treat is Bring Up The Bodies which I’ve given myself as a Christmas present as I didn’t think anyone else would get it for me. It’s sitting on my bookcase and I’m not even going to flick through it until Christmas day.


  4. My book club just read Night Circus (with great reviews) but I’m disappointed I didn’t make it around to reading it. Many of these Christmas books I am not familiar with. Excited to share some of them with my little ones. Thanks!


  5. Hopping over from French Village Diaries – isn’t this blog hopping good fun. I love my books and they became so much more special when we moved from UK to France. I tend to read books with a French theme – I’m addicted! Isn’t the Snowman just so special, brings back some great memories.


  6. Thanks for these recommendations. Christmas Day sounds like a fun read, and I definitely need to check out The Magic of Christmas, and The Snowman for my son.


  7. After months of reading in French I just want to relax o the 25th and read Paris Match, short articles with lots of pictures. I’m sure there will be something “Christmas-y” in there!
    I was never really a Christmas reader… movies get me in the mood….especially “Going My Way” with Bing Crosby and that funny little Irish priest played by Barry Fitzgerald. Both actors gave Oscar performances!


    • Ah yes, the old classics really remind me of Christmas in my childhood, a bit of tap dancing and humour and all, not sure what the French movie selection will be, I like getting out the the Christmas Memories CD, a bit of Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, timeless festive classics!


  8. The Night Circus was transformative for me. I hope you like it, or if you’ve already read it, you enjoyed it. 🙂 Here’s my review of it, in case you’re interested (which I’m posting here because you’ve already liked some of my blog work — thanks for that 🙂 ).

    Happy New Year!


  9. Pingback: Seasonal Comfort Reads | Word by Word

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