Anthology by Hans Christian Andersen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Selma Lagerlof and Vigdis Hjorth
I do love a new book for Christmas and with the mix of history and a stunning cover, this is this year's read without a doubt. Christmas always seems more Christmassy if it's Nordic.
The book is a collection of sixteen short stories in the typically Nordic tradition with a fairy tale feel. These range from the folklore stories of Hans Christian Andersen to the modern Norwegian author Vigdis Hjorth, but they share the theme of snowy Scandinavian winters and stories set at the festive season of Christmas and the New Year. They are also a tad on the sad side, especially in the case of Andersen's tales, which I have known since my childhood. Old and new, they are a good selection and are well matched.
Like most fairy tales, there is magic and elements of wickedness. Mix these with the festive aspects with tales about a fir tree, tin soldiers, Christmas dinner and the drinking that goes with it, Christmas eve and forest witches, and a wonderful festive collection is born. My favourite is The Legend of the Christmas Rose, by Selma Lagerlof, which is based on a mythical tale that also includes a real person from history. It is the story of how the plant, the winter-flowering Christmas Rose, came into being. Storytelling, morality, folklore, history and horticulture all rolled into one lovely story.
That is Christmas sorted, just gather around the log fire with the mulled wine and let the Christmas storytelling begin.
Published by Vintage Digital on 21 October 2021.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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