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Evie

Christmas

I am just downloading Anton Lesser's reading of A Christmas Carol to enjoy - I am also looking forward to curling up with a Phil Rickman novel once the palaver of Christmas Day is out of the way.  I am sure there will be other literary treats in store, but those are my two definites at the moment.

Anyone else got some Christmas reading that they are looking forward to?
TheRejectAmidHair

I am reading Pickwick Papers as a Christmas treat. I just read those lovely chapters describing Christmas at Dingley Dell – if ever there was a fictional world one would like to enter! – and the story of the Goblins Who Stole the Sexton, which is clearly a forerunner of A Christmas Carol. I am hoping to finish this book by Christmas, and make an early start to my Bible project by reading the gospels according to Matthew & to Luke, as the early chapters of both of these are a bit Christmassy!
Apple

I have a Touch of Dead, a collection of short stories based around the characters in the Trueblood series of books which I have written far too much about so won't say any more!! They were all originally published in the US as separate books but they have been brought together and published as one title, and there is a christmassy one amongst them, so I have purposely left it (which has been a feat of self control and will power I can tell you!!) to read over christmas.
Ann

Having fallen for the offer you posted, I've just finished the third book in the series and I'm looking forward to more of the TV series tonight. They really are great fun.
Apple

Ann Wrote:
Quote:
Having fallen for the offer you posted, I've just finished the third book in the series and I'm looking forward to more of the TV series tonight. They really are great fun.


It was a fab offer!! and I am glad you are enjoying them, they are very addictive!
Gul Darr

I just picked up a copy of "What I talk about when I talk about running" by Haruki Murakami at the library today; an auto-biographical book.
Also, hoping to get a chance to start "La Fortune Des Rougon" by Emile Zola, the first novel in his Rougon-Macquart series.
Melony

I'm reading A Christmas Carol again.  We played trivia at our administrators' Christmas party and I made up the questions.  One of the categories must've been too hard, but I thought everyone knew A Christmas carol inside and out and it would be easy!  Everyone looked at me like I was crazy.  The category was termed "Scrooge."  Here are the questions (not all literary)

1. Who coined the term "Scrooge", first name and last?
2. Who was Scrooge's business partner, first name and last.
Easy so far, right?
3. Who played the Scrooge character in the 1988 movie Scrooged?
4. Just recently released on DVD, this Matthew McCougnahey (that probably was misspelled) movie is a play on the theme of A Christmas Carol.
5. This singer/actress and defrocked Miss America, formerly married to NBA player Rick Fox, played Ebony Scrooge in A Diva's Christmas Carol.
6. What are the names of the children who reside under the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present?

I didn't think they were that hard, but I guess there aren't that many true Christmas Carol fans, enough to recognize it in all its guises.
TheRejectAmidHair

I know Nos. 1, 2 and 6; I think I know No 3; and as for the other two - I have no idea!
Evie

No.3 is Bill Murray - I quite liked that version of the story!  

I have absolutely no idea about the last three questions - not sure about the first one either, unless the 'first name' bit is a reference to Scrooge McDuck!
Melony

Scrooge comes from Charles Dickens, doesn't it?  He coined the term, although Scrooge McDuck is always portrayed with those stacks of coins, Evie! (sorry, very pitiful attempt at a pun)

I think you don't know the last two because they are American movies, one made-for-tv.  And because you are literate, lol....Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Vanessa Williams.

Ignorance and Want are the children.
Evie

Sorry, it was the 'first name and last' that threw me - of course Dickens invented it as a last name, but not as a first name - that's why I wasn't sure if you were looking for two answers, for first and last.
Melanie D

Hello everyone! Just wanted to pop in to wish you all a very Happy Christmas! Sorry I've not been around for so, so long. I'm making a resolution to try to pop in much more regularly in 2010. Most of the time I feel I'm always trying to beat the clock, and the prospect of putting any bookish thoughts into coherent sentences is just so daunting nowadays! I'm so rusty, it'd be like trying to make a sloth run to catch a bus - not worth the effort. Well, that's how it feels anyway!

My lead-up-to-Christmas reads have been A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and a very recent sequel Wishing for Tomorrow by Hilary McKay. I never read A Little Princess when I was a child and, whilst I was dusting my daughter's room recently, her copy just spoke to me from her bookshelves - and I thought it was time for me to read it myself. I loved it! All those evocative scenes of muddy London streets, the strong emotional connections I felt to the characters, the rage I felt on Sara's behalf in her hunger and suffering (so palpably felt by the reader), the precarious fine line between good fortune and ruin - and that magical transformation scene in the attic...all had me turning the pages and so closely engaged with the book's world.

I'm halfway through Wishing for Tomorrow at the moment - and I must say Hilary McKay has done a fantastic job recreating the world of Miss Minchin's Select Seminary, remaining true to the spirit of Frances Hodgson Burnett, whilst writing in a style of her own that is a delight to read. So far, a very humane, sympathetic book, with rich humour and such warmth - maintaining those strong connections to the characters (loveable Ermengarde is the main character in this sequel). Overall a real treat!

I was going to read The Mystery of Edwin Drood before Christmas (I've managed to get hold of a copy of the novel, with Leon Garfield's completion of the story - which I'm very excited about, as I've long wanted to read it (both Dickens's last novel and Leon Garfield's take on how he thought Dickens intended to end it). As time is moving on apace, and reading time is limited - I think it'll probably be a new year read now...

Merry Christmas, one and all!
Evie

Melanie, it's *fantastic* to see you!  I did read A Little Princess when I was a child, and just loved it - a very wonderful and magical book, much better than The Secret Garden.

Do hope to see you here again soon - hope all is well - have a great Christmas!
Jen M

Happy Christmas to all!  I'm off on my long-awaited holiday tomorrow, and am unlikely to get the chance to visit the board again before I go.

The books I am taking with me are:  The Clearing, Tim Gautreaux, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers, Dumb Witness, Agatha Christie (we are reading an Agatha Christie selection for my book group), and The Vows of Silence Susan Hill.  I'm also taking a couple of guide books.

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas, however you celebrate.
Sandraseahorse

I went to see "The Snow Queen" at Chichester Theatre yesterday.  It was enchanting and a perfect prelude to Christmas.

Although it was performed by the Youth Theatre, at no time did I feel that I was watching an amateur production.  The acting, singing, stage design and costumes were all first rate.

It was a new musical adaptation with book by Bryony Lavery and music and lyrics by Jason Carr.  The story was updated with several contemporary references - some of which, I felt, worked better than others.   The group behind me on a U3A outing chuckled when one of the baddies was condemned to the fate of running an adult education centre.
Melanie D

Hello Evie!  Very Happy  Great to see you too! Typically, after I'd posted here yesterday, things suddenly got hectic, and I've just managed to call back in to reply! I'll certainly do my best to visit here from time to time - I'm quite shocked at how difficult I found writing just that paragraph above about A Little Princess. A bit like pulling teeth! I'm just so out of practice! It'll do me good to get back here and see you all, and start oiling the old book appreciation writing cogs a bit more!

Have a lovely Christmas, Evie!
Chibiabos83

It would be the best Christmas present imaginable to see you here more often  Very Happy
Melanie D

Aw... thanks, Chib!  Very Happy  What a lovely thing to say!

Lovely to see  you... It seems like eons since I was last here. I must say, it feels so nice to be back amongst the fold. A very Christmassy thing, to be visiting old friends...

....I shall get all sentimental soon - I'm especially prone to it at this time of year!  rendeer
TheRejectAmidHair

May I make you feel even more sentimental (or, perhaps, to put you off ... whatever!) by adding my voice as well to the chorus of welcomes. It would bbe great to see you here more frequently!
Evie

Melanie, I know how you feel - I haven't written anything for ages, and it really is hard work when I begin to try...but my new year's resolution is to get back into a critical and literary frame of mind.  This would help with my work too, which involves a lot of writing, or should do...but having had a break from that aspect of it for a few months, I am struggling!  Once Christmas is out of the way, I need to get back into practise.  Or practice.  I never know.  Or care, particularly...
Melanie D

Oops! I'm definitely out of practise! You're right Evie, that's one of those slippery ones! Why does the brain develop a sieve like quality so quickly? Scary isn't it, Evie? Hopefully, it's like riding a bike - a bit more practise, and we'll feel less wobbly!

Himadri - my fellow Shakespeare-nut and Dickensian! You've definitely succeeded in increasing my sentimental mood! Lovely to see you! (All I need now is a chorus of Auld Lang Syne and one of Tiny Tim's or Little Nell's key scenes (whatever Oscar Wilde said!) thrown in, and I'll be done for!) I shall have to get back into the literary criticism habit, if I'm going to keep up with you on your Bardathon! I'm looking forward to reading your posts there - always love your Shakespearean insights! I've had some wonderful theatre trips to see productions of Shakespeare over past months - when I get time, I'll add details to the Shakespeare thread.

By the way, Himadri - did you see the post about the film of the RSC's Hamlet I added to the Christmas adaptations thread? I posted a link to a clip from the film (from Act I: 'But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son - /A little more than kin, and less than kind....etc) - a real taster for the treats to come on Boxing Day. I wasn't sure whether to put it there or on the Shakespeare thread, so that those who were interested might notice it and take a look if they wanted a sneak peek. If that clip is anything to go by, the film seems to be staying very close to the stage production, which I feel so lucky to have seen in 2008...
TheRejectAmidHair

Hello Melanie, I did see your post, but haven't played the clip yet. (I've been meaning to - if that counts!) I am looking forward to the screening on Boxing Day, though: I missed the stage production.

As for the Bardathon, I finished it this September. If you go to the Bardathon site on here, you'll find reams & reams of stuff. Most of it's on the Bardathon thread, but I started new threads for some of the longer posts (Henry IV plays, Othello, etc). Funny thing is - no matter how much you write about some of these plays, you end up thinking that you've barely scratched the surface.

(I've been considering brushing upsome of this stuff, and putting them up on my own site - but I haven't got round to that yet!)

This sort of focussed reading over a year has been really enjoyable - and next year's going to be The Year of the Bible.
Melanie D

Oh, not to worry about playing the clip, Himadri - it's not long to wait for the full screening, after all! Just thought it may have got tucked away a bit on the other thread. I was so impatient to see how closely they'd kept to the stage production, I leapt at the clip when I found it. I was getting a little apprehensive that my precious memories of the live performance might clash with new pictures in my head, created by the film production - but that doesn't seem likely to happen! What I've seen matches my memory so closely - and my mind-pictures of all those magical on-the-night moments are unshakeable anyway, I think!

Yes, I've certainly got a lot of catching up to do, to read your Bardathon posts! What a fab project! That's what's so great about the Bard, isn't it - that no matter how much we explore his plays, they are always totally inexhaustible! (Well - one of the many great things about the Bard!)
Melony

Evie wrote:
Sorry, it was the 'first name and last' that threw me - of course Dickens invented it as a last name, but not as a first name - that's why I wasn't sure if you were looking for two answers, for first and last.

So sorry, Evie!!!  I meant the first and last name of the author.  Sorry to be ambiguous!
Melony

There is a marathon of the George C. Scott A Christmas Carol on tv.  Of course I will watch any version of A Christmas Carol, but something that always perplexed me is why everyone else has a Bristish accent in that version except Scrooge.
TheRejectAmidHair

I don't think the accents were particularly prominent - not enough to be noticeable. George C Scott is American, of course, but he didn't seem incongruous in the setting. And the rest of the cast - Susannah York, Edward Woodward, Frank Finlay, David Warner etc - are all, of course, British.
Melony

I thought Scott did a good job as Scrooge, but you can tell his accent is not British - it's not outrageous or anything, just noticeable. Probably not as obvious as Downey's will be as Holmes.  Tonight the Patrick Stewart 1999 version of A Christmas Carol was on.
Evie

We have the Patrick Stewart version, either today or tomorrow (am already confused with the schedules!!) - I quite like that version.

And apologies for misunderstanding your quiz question, Melony!!  I don't always read things very carefully...tsk tsk.
Melony

I hope you enjoy Patrick Stewart today (if you have time to watch) and have a very merry Christmas Eve, Evie!  And everyone!
Apple

...and a very merry christmas to you too Melony!

I maintain the best Scrooge is Michael Caine!! Watched Muppet Christmas Carol this evening - very silly but an absolute classic and perfect for christmas, really got me in the mood! Very Happy
iwishiwas

Well at the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I'm glad Christmas is over for another year.
Melony

iwishiwas, I am feeling kind of that way too, simply because this was the worst Christmas ever  - we have been snowed in for two days and could not get to our family.  But, our two children were here and my father lives nextdoor, so he could just walk over.

As for Scrooge, though, I could watch A Christmas Carol a couple more times.  They never showed the Alistair Simm version (probably spelled that incorrectly) nor the Muppet version, either of which I would have watched.  Or Scrooged.  I haven't assuaged my Scrooge fix yet!!  I may just have to read the copy I keep by my bed year-round!
Evie

I am very glad it's over too.  Of course, Christmas has only just started, and won't be over until 6 January - but the bit that is almost unbearable is over!
Melony

Very good point, Evie!
mike js

I have to join those who are glad the main bit is over. For many years I have felt badly disconnected from the jolly season thing (although I like Winter). I tend to feel a loneliness among people at this time, usually staying with my mother. I always got on well with my mother and we were friends - but still I was an alien somehow.

Now, over the last year my mother has succumbed rapidly to some form of dementia. Down she falls, into the beckoning darkness. Slipping away from this little, bright lifeboat. I should hold out my hand, and gather her back among us. But I am afraid, and I row away to a halfway place. My friend is gone, and I forgot to say goodbye.
Ann

mike js wrote:

Now, over the last year my mother has succumbed rapidly to some form of dementia. Down she falls, into the beckoning darkness. Slipping away from this little, bright lifeboat. I should hold out my hand, and gather her back among us. But I am afraid, and I row away to a halfway place. My friend is gone, and I forgot to say goodbye.

I've been there, mikejs, and it is not fun. All I can say is live in the moment and don't anticipate too much as you have to go with things as they are and can't worry too much about what will happen. Have you seen the programme that Terry Pratchett bravely make about his own demintia? I hope your mother, unlike mine, doesn't realise that she is confused. My mother was desperately unhappy all the time.
Apple

Mike Wrote:
Quote:
Now, over the last year my mother has succumbed rapidly to some form of dementia. Down she falls, into the beckoning darkness. Slipping away from this little, bright lifeboat. I should hold out my hand, and gather her back among us. But I am afraid, and I row away to a halfway place. My friend is gone, and I forgot to say goodbye.


That is the most cruel disease there is, watching someone mentally deteriorate in front of your eyes and just become an empty husk of their former selves. No one can say anything which will make you feel better but here's thinking of you and I'm sending you a huge virtual hug!

on a lighter note...

Melonie Wrote:
Quote:
I am feeling kind of that way too, simply because this was the worst Christmas ever  - we have been snowed in for two days and could not get to our family.  But, our two children were here and my father lives nextdoor, so he could just walk over.


Do you live on the east coast of America then Melonie? the snow has been really bad along there, I have family in New York state and they have had quite a large amount of snow and really bad conditions.
miranda

mike js wrote:

Now, over the last year my mother has succumbed rapidly to some form of dementia. Down she falls, into the beckoning darkness. Slipping away from this little, bright lifeboat. I should hold out my hand, and gather her back among us. But I am afraid, and I row away to a halfway place. My friend is gone, and I forgot to say goodbye.



Oh mate.... <great big hug>
Evie

Mike, I am so sorry...my mother has developed dementia too, though over a much longer period of time, so I can understand a bit of what you are going through, but I was never friends with my mother, have never got on with either of my parents.  It is very hard to know what to do - and yes, scary - I am sure Ann's advice is very wise.  Just make sure you keep in touh with us!  I know we are only a virtual community in one sense, but we are real too.
Evie

PS - I do also understand about feeling lonely at Christmas despite spending it with family members...and a bit alien...it's not an easy time of year.
mike js

Thank you everyone for all the friendly thoughts and advice. It is much appreciated!
Joe Mac

Speaking of Scrooge and aging mothers, I spent a week over Christmas looking after my mom, who, besides having recently been diagnosed with cancer, crashed her car and is a bit on the disabled side. She doesn't have dementia, happily, although her memory is failing. Or is that part of dementia?
Anyway, it was a pretty good experience for both of us, I think, the bedpan emptying notwithstanding. We watched the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol - not my favourite by any means, but still fun. No player of Scrooge in film or on television has ever measured up, in my view, to one done on record by Lionel Barrymore. This was a Christmas staple at our house when I was little and we didn't have television. Just brilliant.

Believe it or not, it was our first Christmas together since 1975!
Caro

It seems wrong to show amazement at such a statement since I know nothing of the circumstances, Joe, but I am amazed.  That's 34 years!  Fancy your mother having to do without you at Christmas all that time.

Cheers, Caro.
Joe Mac

I'm kind of amazed myself. The circumstances are pretty dull, though. For many years I lived too far away and lacked the means to make the trip. For the past 20 it's been a mere six hour drive, but my wife and I both dislike driving long distances in winter. We save our visits for the warmer seasons.
Oh! My parents did spend a Christmas with us once, the year before my dad died. But this was my first one at home in ages.
Melony

There's not much left to say, except that I like group hugs, even virtual ones.  My dad has shown a marked decline with his 80th birthday this year, so I do sympathize with everyone.  Tiny Tim had the best words for us all!


Apple, I live in the very middle of the country, which seems to have gotten something from the Rocky Mtns. in Colorado very close to a blizzard.  I did see the horrible snow on the east coast and I heard it snowed in London?  RN, I can completely understand about not driving in the winter.  I would imagine your Canadian winter can be hectic.

I had completely forgotten about the Lionel Barrymore Scrooge.  I haven't seen it in 20 years or more!
Apple

Melonie - It did snow here in London and around the south of the country but nothing like what you get in the States, its quite pathetic really here a few flakes and the whole country grinds to a halt.

The snow is quite a sore subject with me at the moment in the end practically every bit of the UK got some except us and I felt quite deprived as I love the snow, and last night they gave out weather warnings for snow over the Midlands where I am - and once again we got rain!  Crying or Very sad
Evie

It snowed pretty much everywhere...but news reporters only seem to care about the south of England!  My brother runs a business delivering organic vegboxes, and they had a nightmare in the week before Christmas, in south Wales.  Still heavy snow in Scotland and the north of England, with lots of roads closed.   We didn't have a huge amount here in the West Midlands, but the thick ice lasted a week.  It snowed again last night, but turned to sleet over night, and is now just rain, as far as I can tell (have not ventured out yet!).  

But yes, what is heavy snow to us is nothing to what falls in North America and more northerly parts of Europe!  An American friend said they had a couple of feet of snow...don't think I have ever known snow that deep in the bits of the UK I have lived in.  But I think it's *because* we don't get much snow here, and not very often, that we are not prepared for it.
Apple

I think I was editing when you posted that Evie!
Evie

I heard the weather warnings too (I am in the West Mids, I think you are in the East?), and was expecting a thick layer of snow this morning, but it is just wet and windy!  I went out for bread and milk yesterday morning, thinking I might be snowbound for a few days...am beginning to realise there is a lot of scaremongering going on!

I'm sorry you missed out - though it was pretty awful, I would happily have sent you ours if I could!
Evie

My bookish disappointment over Christmas was that I had downloaded the lovely Anton Lesser reading A Christmas Carol, but didn't find time to listen to it.  I still can, but I was planning to hear at least some of it on Christmas Eve.
Melony

Arrgggh!  Similar experience, Evie - A Christmas Carol was read Christmas day on NPR and I totally missed it!  Sometimes you can't go back and do something again quite the same.  I think that is really true of Christmas and why it is such a let down so often.  It's so idealized, but I'm keeping in mind the words of Thomas Tusser...At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.  Good advice from the 1500's.

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