Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Blogs

Oh my! I've discovered book blogs. I have been engrossed ever since. Housework is undone, dinner was leftovers, and the laundry continues to pile up. Must.stop.reading.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Sort-of Book Review-Aunt Dimity's Christmas (Nancy Atherton)

atherton_aunt dimity christmas

OK, we all know that I am not a great writer (but I do want to be one when I grow up). The other thing I'm not is a reviewer. But, I read a great book last evening and I was inspired to write about it. Then today, I spent the entire day in my pajamas surfing the interwebs and relaxing. What struck my fancy today? Book blogs. Tons of them. The reviews and the camaraderie are simply wonderful. In the spirit of the wonderful blogs I visited today (and will continue to visit-I added a bunch to my reader), here's my thoughts on Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity's Christmas.

Wow. I didn't know when I picked up the book this evening that it would have such an effect on me. I've read a few other books in Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series before and I liked them. The premise of her series is strange, but it works and the stories are quaint and entertaining. There's always a strong emphasis on relationships in her books, but I didn't realize until tonight how much these books had to teach me.

As usual, I've read this series completely out of sequence. This book, I think, is the 4th in the series, really touched me and explained so much that happens in later volumes. I see these stories through new eyes now. I thought they were just pithy little entertaining cozies, but they are more. Aunt Dimity's Christmas really drove that point home.

I am a sufferer of depression, the worst episode of which occurred after I had the Kidlet. Let me just say that it is one horrible disease. I do not wish it on anyone. I think my experiences with depression are what made such a strong connection with this novel. Ms. Atherton is not afraid to take on mental illness in this book. One of her metaphors for depression was darkness. Certainly not an original idea, but it worked here. She wrote about it beautifully.

I knew how precarious the light was, how quickly the darkness could close in, and I knew, better than most, that it could happen to anyone, anyone at all.

I'd gotten too fat and sassy . . . I'd paid my dues, so I thought I was entitled to my blessings . . . Blessings aren't a right-they're a gift.

Lori Shepard is a wealthy, young mother of 9 month old twin boys and married to a successful attorney. She's an American living in Great Britain. She has inherited a beautiful cottage and a fortune from her Aunt Dimity. Aunt Dimity isn't really a blood relative and Lori never met Dimity while she was living. Lori always knew Aunt Dimity as a heroine in the stories her mother told her when she was young. In reality, Aunt Dimity was a friend of Lori's mom's with whom she shared her life through letters. They had met during the war. Lori comes to know of Aunt Dimity after both she and her mother died and Lori inherits Aunt Dimity's estate. The unique aspect of their relationship is that Aunt Dimity communicates with Lori through a blue journal from beyond the grave. In the series, Aunt Dimity helps Lori sort out her relationships with others and several mysteries she finds herself involved with.

In this book, Lori is trying to have the perfect Christmas. The kind of Christmas that her father would have had. Lori's dad died when she was very young and she doesn't have much except photos to remember him by. She's working hard to create an idyllic holiday when a man, covered in snow and almost frozen to death, is discovered under her lilac hedge. From then on Lori's holiday is turned upside down.

First, Lori is repulsed by the "tramp". He's shabby and obviously homeless and he had caused such a disruption in her plans. He has no identification and his reasoning for traveling to the cottage is unknown. When Aunt Dimity is informed of the incident she makes Lori promise to visit the man in the hospital and find out who he is.

Once Lori visits the mystery man at the hospital, her views on him change. She is enchanted by him. She experiences an overwhelming desire to help this man. During her quest, she meets Julian, a Catholic priest who runs a homeless shelter for men. Together they work to find out how the man came to Lori's cottage, who he is, and how he became homeless. Lori has to face her own history and revise her assumptions about those who are less fortunate than she.

I loved this book. It was well written and hooked me from the very beginning. This one gets 5/5 stars.