Another one of my Cambridge haul down! I’m doing pretty well with it having so far read five out of seven books I bought then, the only ones left are: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and David Szalay’s All That Man Is, so I actually do stand a chance of finishing all of the haul before end of year (or maybe I would if not for all the lovely gifts I got from my mother for St Nicholas Day, but that’s topic for another post).
Ghosts of Christmas Past is a collection of short stories, as I mentioned many times before I am not a fan, but I decided to get some Christmas reading this year, after last year’s roaring success with Jeanette Winterson’s Christmas Days. This time I came upon a collection of ghost short stories, which also made me aware of yet another British tradition, of telling ghost stories at Christmas, not something I was aware of, but sounds like a fun idea. The book packs 13 stories by M. R. James, Jenn Ashworth, E. Nesbit, Louis de Bernieres, Muriel Spark, Frank Cowper, E.F. Benson, Bernard Capes, L. P. Hartley, Robert Aickman, Neil Gaiman, Jerome K. Jerome and Kelly Link. I obviously liked some stories more than others, but what I liked the most is the variety, there are as many approaches to a ghost story as there are authors and this was great fun. Some of the stories were almost Victorian, some were almost horrors, some were creepy, some cheerful, some about love and longing, others about evil and all of them had a ghost. I think this is one of the things I may start liking about short stories, if they all center around one topic it is fascinating to see how different authors approach it.
The three favorites of mine are quite different as well. Dinner for One by Jenn Ashworth was blood chilling in its creepiness, nothing happened in it and yet it was terrifying. Nicholas Was by Neil Gaiman was very short and at the same time punchy and very sad. The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link was quite romantic for my liking, but it best evoked the magic spirit of Christmas, I could picture the snow and the fox, beautiful.
Overall I did enjoy the collection a lot, but I cannot say it really put me in Christmas mood, I still don’t associate Christmas with ghosts that closely. Luckily for me I have one more collection of Christmas short stories lined up to get me in the mood, I plan to read it just before Christmas when I’m off work and there is not distractions, only focus on getting myself in the mood.
What do you read to get yourself ready for Christmas? Do you enjoy ghost stories?
Have a lovely December!
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska
6 thoughts on “Ghosts of Christmas Past”
I have been trying to read a Christmas-type book during the season for the past few years. This year I just finished Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries, a British Library Crime Classics book. It was pretty good, but rather uneven. There were four stand-out stories, though, so I’m still glad I read it. I don’t associate Christmas with ghost stories but this sounds interesting! I like Kelly Link and Gaiman.
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Definitely ghost stories for Christmas! I think Dickens may have started that tradition here in Britain and I usually read at least one of his stories and watch or listen to some version of A Christmas Carol every year. 🙂
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