Letters, Pudding, Mischief and Murder - Livres de Mois
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
In Decembers Livres du Mois I've shared a small handful of books that I enjoy reading during this season and one which holds inspiration for next year. From a 1920's Christmas in the Cotswolds to a cookbook that includes a two and a half page rant on how not a single decent chocolate bar hasn't been invented in the last 100 years. We begin with a foray into the world of the Bright Young Things.
'Christmas Day was organized by Lady Bobbin with the thoroughness and attention to detail of a general leading his army into battle . . .'
The formidable fox-hunter Lady Bobbin is holding a Christmas house party. Attendees include her rebellious daughter Philadelphia, a pompous suitor, a couple of children poring over newspaper death notices, and a dejected writer whose first serious novel has been declared the funniest book of the year. Add to the mix beautiful ex-courtesan Amabelle Fortescue and her guests staying in a neighbouring cottage and you have a ribald tale of true love and false fidelity, hijinks and low morals, not to mention the consumption of a considerable quantity of Christmas spirit.
Letters from Father Christmss
J. R. R. Tolkien
Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches.
The letters were from Father Christmas.
They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house!
Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and ‘authenticity’ of Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas.
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.
But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man…
Jeeves and the Yule-Tide Spirit
P. G. Woodhouse
‘What a very, very lucky person you are. Spread out before you are the finest and funniest words from the finest and funniest writer the past century ever knew.’
- Stephen Fry
Aunts, engagements, misunderstandings and hangover cures; this delightful collection from ‘the greatest chronicler of a certain kind of Englishness’ (Julian Fellowes) brings together a baker’s dozen of P. G. Wodehouse’s finest short stories.
In this beautiful edition we find Bertie Wooster and Jeeves embarking on foolhardy quests and inspired rescue missions. We discover Ukridge, the ever-optimistic animated blob of mustard, undeterred in his big broad outlook, no matter how bleak things look, while the Fifth Earl of Ickenham, better known as Uncle Fred, continues enjoying life, quite oblivious to the embarrassment he’s causing.
And, as snow falls on the links outside the Angler's Rest, Mr Mulliner, the Oldest Member at the Golf Club, settles in to recount tales of romance and ghosts, and keep the tide of intellectual – albeit rather one-sided – conversation flowing.
Roald Dahl's Cookbook
Felicity & Roald Dahl
We end with a book that will inspire you to create some special meals for special moments. This book is a mixture of anecdotes covering Roald Dahl's family, his childhood, and his happiness at home with Liccy, his wife, and their numerous children, grandchildren and friends. For this extensive family, there is no more enjoyable way of relaxing than sharing good food and wine.
The meals they enjoy together round the old pine farmhouse table at Gipsey House are either fine examples of national dishes of their heritage - Norwegian, French, British, etc - or favourite recipes that have delighted three generations of discerning eaters. Many recipes have acquired a particular significance for the Dahl family over the years, and these are introduced with reminiscenses rich in nostalgia and humour.
The recipes are for all occasions, covering family birthday parties, Christmas and Easter celebrations, Roald's passion for chocolate, onions and wine, his enthusiasm for gambling and gardening and finally, a Dahl-style chapter: "Hangman's Suppers" - contributed by Francis Bacon, P.D. James, John Le Carre, Peter Ustinov and others.
I hope that you may have found something that piques your interest and if Mr. Dahl's passion for onions won't do it I don't know what will. But if one of the most beloved children's writer standing over a bed on onions beaming doesn't align with your tastes then you may find more something suitable in The Library. Authors and Vegetables aside I know it has been an extremely hard year but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I wish for you an endless supply of excellent books for the new year. Happy reading.