Thursday, 1 December 2011

Making the Most of Advent

This time last year I recommended the poetry of St Robert Southwell (and here) and Alice Thomas Ellis's The Birds of the Air

This year I have been slogging through her The Inn at the Edge of the World, a novel about a group of individuals who spend Christmas at a failing inn on a remote Scottish island in a vain attempt to escape the horrors of Christmas. As is typical of Thomas Ellis, there is more to the story than immediately meets the eye - selkie legends run through the story and a twist is coming - but I'm not enjoying it as much as I did The Birds of the Air simply because the characters are an eminently unlikeable lot.

So what else is available as we prepare for Christmas? I recommended a few books last November and a couple of children's books this year (here and here) but there's plenty more out there.

Denise Levertov's 'The Tide', for example, is presented as an Advent poem in one anthology of Catholic poetry. It's a good poem but I wonder if her poem about the Annunciation might not be a better bet at this time of year (as well as in March)? Levertov is a fantastic poet and not terribly well known, at least on this side of the pond.

Another option is Mauriac's 'A Christmas Tale', a story about Christmas, growing up and authorship, which is available in John B. Breslin's The Substance of Things Hoped For (along with some other great, and unusual, short stories.

Any other suggestions gratefully received.

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