Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days

From the New York Times bestselling author of “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” comes an enchanting collection of stories for the holiday season.

For years Jeanette Winterson has loved writing a new story at Christmas time and here she brings together twelve of her brilliantly imaginative, funny and bold tales. For the Twelve Days of Christmas—a time of celebration,

For years Jeanette Winterson has loved writing a new story at Christmas time and here she brings together twelve of her brilliantly imaginative, funny and bold tales. For the Twelve Days of Christmas—a time of celebration, sharing, and giving—she offers these twelve plus one: a personal story of her own Christmas memories. These tales give the reader a portal into the spirit of the season, where time slows down and magic starts to happen. From trees with mysterious powers to a tinsel baby that talks, philosophical fairies to flying dogs, a haunted house and a disappearing train, Winterson’s innovative stories encompass the childlike and spooky wonder of Christmas. Perfect for reading by the fire with loved ones, or while traveling home for the holidays. Enjoy the season of peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic courtesy of one of our most fearless and accomplished writers.
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    Amalia Gavea

    It’s Jeanette Winterson, people. I could read her shopping list and still be a happy reader. In Christmas Days we have her impeccable style and stories about Christmas. What could go wrong? If you just replied ”nothing”, you are correct.

    Jeanette Winterson offers us 12 stories and 12 recipes for the 12 days of Christmas. The stories are examples of different genres, each one written in a distinctive voice, each one with its own theme. The feature that makes this collection special are the recip

    Jeanette Winterson offers us 12 stories and 12 recipes for the 12 days of Christmas. The stories are examples of different genres, each one written in a distinctive voice, each one with its own theme. The feature that makes this collection special are the recipies that we find scattered among the stories. Not to mention the lovely black and white illustrations that reminded me of those old-school Christmas pictures my mother used to collect when she was young.


    ”Christmas Tide”
    – One of the best introductions I’ve ever read.

    ”Spirit of Christmas”
    – An enstranged couple comes across a strange encounter, involving a woman and a baby…

    ”Mrs. Winterson’s Mince Pies”
    – Recipe alert!
    ”The Snowmama”– One of the most magical stories. If you wish to feel the spirit of Christmas (yes, I know. It sounds old-fashioned, but that’s the sentimental me now) then, this will melt your heart. Pun intended.

    Ruth Rendell’s Red Cabbage”
    – A wonderful account of the friendship between Jeanette Winterson and Ruth Rendell. And a second recipe to inspire your festive table.

    ”Dark Christmas”
    – No Christmas collection is complete without a ghost story.This one is haunting and heart-breaking.

    ”Kathy Acker’s New York Custard”
    – We have Kathy Acker, Jeanette Winterson and references to Dylan Thomas. And New York.

    ”Christmas in New York”
    – Christmas is supposed to be a time for miracles. Here, we have the miracle of love when one least expects it. It happens…

    ”My Christmas Eve Smoked Salmon and Champagne”
    – Recipe- My mother wanted to try this one, but she was threatened with exile from my Christmas table and a written commitment she wouldn’t do it again.
    ”The Mistletoe Bride”– A true Gothic story, with hints to Jane Eyre and the Bluebird myth. Fantastic!

    ”Susie’s Christmas Eve Cravlax”
    – Jeanette Winterson gives us a glimpse of her private life. In beautiful prose, she describes the first steps of her relationship with her wife, Susie Orbach.

    ”O’Brien’s First Christmas”
    ‘- Wishes exist for Christmas’Eve after all.

    ”The Second-Best Bed”
    – Another eerie, haunting story. The ghosts of old friendships and of old wrong-doings.

    ”Shakespeare and Company’s Chinese Dumplings”
    – Who hasn’t spent hours browsing photos of one of the most famous bookshops in the world? Those of us who had the chance to visit it, feel a special warmth in our heart just by mentioning the name.

    ”Christms Cracker”
    – Stray dogs wants us to be careful what we wish for…

    ”My Mulled Wine (or No More Fruit in Main Courses) ”
    – Few things say ”Christmas” better than mulled wine and gingerbread houses.

    ”A Ghost Story”
    ‘- A wintery ghost story in the ski resort of Mürren in Switzerland.

    ”Kamila Shamie’s Turkey Biryani”
    – A rather delicious recipe.

    ”The Silver Frog”
    – A child’s story with Dickensian flair and a heart-warming message.

    ”My New Year’s Eve Cheese Crispies”
    – New Year’s Eve reflections, memories and delicious crispies.

    ”The Lion, the Unicorn and Me”
    – A beautiful tale in the voice of the donkey that carried the Virgin Mary and the Holy Child to Bethlehem.

    ”My New Year’s Day Steak Sandwich”
    – Another glimpse of Jeanette Winterson’s relationship with her mother, and a recipe I’m definitely going to try.

    ”The Glow-Heart”
    – Arguably, the most moving story in the collection. The beauty of love, the pain of loss and the ability to start again.

    ”My Twelfth Night Fishcakes”
    – The last story is dedicated to the Twelfth Night, a time I personally hate. Taking down the decorations and returning to the routine always make me gloomy. I hate fish as well, but that’s a different story.

    You need to read this book. Not only as a Christmas collection, but as a beautiful example of Literature. All the joys and the aches that accompany each one of us are included in short, but so layered pieces of text, written in the engaging, immediate way of Jeanette Winterson. One of the best books I’ve ever read.
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    Diane S ☔

    Dec 12, 2016

    rated it
    really liked it

    This may well be the only Christmas book I read this season, and of so I am glad I chose this one. I loved every single story, though of course I had a few favorites.

    The Snowmama, a magical heartwarming story with a wonderful message.
    The Mistletoe Bride, a gothic tale of well deserved revenge.
    Christmas Cracker, a wonderful tale that ends with the true meaning of Christmas.
    The Silver Frog, a loose presentation of a Scrooge type story.
    The Lion, The Unicorn and me, a humorous telling of the birth

    The Snowmama, a magical heartwarming story with a wonderful message.
    The Mistletoe Bride, a gothic tale of well deserved revenge.
    Christmas Cracker, a wonderful tale that ends with the true meaning of Christmas.
    The Silver Frog, a loose presentation of a Scrooge type story.
    The Lion, The Unicorn and me, a humorous telling of the birth of Jesus, narrated by the donkey who carried Mary.

    In between each story is a recipe and I also loved the stories that went with them. Here Winterson lets the reader into her life, her hardships, her wife, Suzy Ormond and trying to keep her traditions, Winterson loves Christmas, with a Jew who does not celebrate Christmas. Her times at Shakespeare and Company, some tidbits of her family life growing up and her wonderful friendship with the late Ruth Rendell. Personal and interesting stuff here, one gets a sense of who this author is and what she considers important.

    Beautiful book packaging as well, a win, win.

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    Cecily

    description

    This is a physically beautiful collection of a dozen (for the twelve days of Christmas) new short stories, alternating with a dozen pieces about food (each ending with a recipe), all with a Christmas or winter theme, topped and tailed with an introduction and a Christmas message. I use, but don’t read cookery books, and to my surprise, the musings on food, festivities, and ritual (4*) were far better than most of the stories (2* – 3*), some of which felt more suited to Halloween. Many of the sto

    This is a physically beautiful collection of a dozen (for the twelve days of Christmas) new short stories, alternating with a dozen pieces about food (each ending with a recipe), all with a Christmas or winter theme, topped and tailed with an introduction and a Christmas message. I use, but don’t read cookery books, and to my surprise, the musings on food, festivities, and ritual (4*) were far better than most of the stories (2* – 3*), some of which felt more suited to Halloween. Many of the stories would be fine for family reading; the food passages would be of less interest to children.

    Stories, Religion, Orphans, Making Families, Rituals, and Time

    The more Winterson I read, the more I realise the importance of knowing her life story and how that relates to her recurring themes.

    Here, she mentions key aspects as she goes, but it helps to know more. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit was a fictionalised account that brought her to fame (my brief review HERE). Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal? is her more recent autobiography that brings her story up-to-date, and explains more deeply, the importance of literature and storytelling, especially in relation to abandonment (my review HERE).

    Christmas-Tide (introduction)

    Winterson writes about the power of imagery, especially in pre-literate times, the cult of Mary, and other things we treat as sacred, even those of us who are broadly secular. She may not believe in the Christian faith she was raised in, but she values aspects of it. She loves the traditions of Christmas and dislikes its commercialisation, though acknowledges wryly that the story starts with a demand for money (tax) and ends with gifts (a child, then gold, frankincense, and myrrh).

    She moves from the profundity and beauty of “An angel, fast as thought and bright as hope, turning eternity into time” to satirical regret that cooking has become like cycling (requiring unnecessary and expensive equipment, and being too competitive), rather than being appreciated as “an everyday ordinary miracle“. That sort of segue is typical of this book.

    Spirit of Christmas

    It was the night before Christmas and all over the house nothing was stirring because even the mouse was exhausted.

    But it’s the spirit of Dickens that chimes in this poignant contemporary story of a ghostly abandoned child who claims to be The Spirit of Christmas.

    Mrs Winterson’s Mince Pies

    There is delightful period detail (a Spong, greasing tins with the butter wrapper), and the abusive Mrs Winterson seems almost benign in the festive glow. Nevertheless, “If you want the full 1960s experience… turn off your heating the night before and wear two jumpers under your pinny.

    The recipes here are to be read for the writing more than to be followed. In poignant terms, she explores poverty, loss, and the meaning of giving, instructs you to “Make pleasing circles of pastry.” and drily suggests filling mince pies “generously, but not idiotically“. “Store them in an old tin you have no use for but can’t bear to throw out.” Delightful.

    The SnowMama

    Love is a mystery that makes things happen…. Love always comes back.

    A story of childlike faith in magic, and hope for better things, coupled with practical action. There’s a bit of playing with gender expectations (male and female snowpeople, and human children whose names leave you unsure at first) and puns on “snow” that soften the deprivation of one of the main characters.

    Ruth Rendell’s Red Cabbage

    The (nearly) lost alchemy of pickling.

    Dark Christmas

    We are lucky, even the worst of us, because daylight comes.
    She is quoting herself a decade ago, in Lighthousekeeping (my review HERE).

    Friends plan to meet up at a remote cottage for Christmas. A traditional spooky-house story, clichés and all, but with many echoes of madonna and child, and lost children.

    There are seconds that hold a lifetime. Who you were, what you will become. Turn the key!

    Kathy Acker’s New York Custard

    This book is peppered with intriguing history of Christmas and its traditions. I didn’t know that Bird’s instant custard was invented by a man whose wife was allergic to eggs. Far more surprisingly, apparently Dylan Thomas invented “Night Custard”, intended for eating, hair creme, and vaginal lubricant! Just as well I read that only after making my custard, which is very similar to Acker’s.

    Christmas in New York

    Snow’s just rain that’s been left out in the cold.

    The narrator lives alone in a sombre apartment, which he bought furnished and has never added to. He dislikes Christmas because as a boy, he was barely allowed to celebrate it. When he left for college, his mother returned a gift he’d once given her. “She never could receive. She never could give… I kept it like poison I had already swallowed.

    He keeps bumping into a colleague who tries to encourage him to admit a little festive cheer into his life, and to follow his dreams. There is an air of enchantment, but things are not always what they seem.

    It was a day of winter sun that sparkled the city into diamonds and pearls… The windows of the big department stores like magic mirrors into another world.”

    My Christmas Eve Smoked Salmon and Champagne

    The prelude to the “recipe” is the heart of the book, confirming what all the rest says.

    • “We make our own traditions.

    • “A sense of continuity – religion is good at that. And a sense of belonging to something more necessary than shopping and party-going. This is a spiritual experience, whether or not you believe in God.

    • “The point of ritual is that the sameness of it concentrates and then clears the mind… Ritual is a way of altering time… of pausing the endless intrusions of busy life.

    • “Ritual has an anticipatory relevance: making your own raft of time. Your own doorway into Christmas.

    The Mistletoe Bride

    The long icicle of our journey… The tongue of the drawbridge… Words hanging in mid-air like my dictionary of frost.

    Set long ago, in an unknown place, a young girl travels to marry an older man she barely knows on Christmas Eve, as is the tradition in those parts. Others are darker. Hide and seek can have unexpected consequences.

    Mistletoe; mysterious, poisonous, white as death, green as hope.

    Susie’s Christmas Eve Gravlax

    Love affairs are discoveries of new worlds.

    I need non-linear time to imagine and to write.

    And then there’s something about fish.

    O’Brien’s First Christmas

    She had done nothing that caught in the sieve of the world’s esteem.

    A seasonal transformation. Changing outward appearance isn’t necessarily trivial: it affects how others treat us, which in turn, affects our self-image.

    Dad’s Sherry Trifle

    I have learned, painfully, over the years that the things I regret in my life are not errors of judgement but failures of feeling.

    Her father was “a celebratory war baby they soon forgot to celebrate”, rather as Mrs Winterson rapidly lost any joy in the daughter she so hopefully adopted.

    Winterson’s last Christmas with her father didn’t rewire the past, but it it “rewrote our ending”.

    The Second Best Bed

    Are there things that cannot be explained? And if there are, how do we explain them?

    Nothing to do with Shakespeare’s will, but an apparently formulaic ghost story – until the grand reveal, which was a total surprise, though perhaps shouldn’t have been, as it touches on issues Winterson cares about.

    Shakespeare And Company’s Chinese Dumplings

    Winterson has been to the famous place many times. In 2007, it literally saved her life.

    Christmas Cracker

    There is something of Willy Wonka’s winners here, except I found this rather stupid. Talking dogs don’t do it for me, except in picture books.

    My Mulled Wine

    Mulled wine is more of a spell than a recipe.

    A Ghost Story

    When I am climbing I understand that gravity exists to protect us from our lightness of being, in the same way that time is what shields us from eternity… It’s not death that’s to be feared. It’s eternity.

    More ghosts, this time in a ski resort, with thoughts of empire and how the British made downhill skiing a competitive sport, “rather than just the fastest way to get to the bottom of the hill”.

    People feel light-headed on mountains.

    Kamila Shamsie’s Turkey Biryani

    A nice variant on Boxing Day turkey curry.

    The Silver Frog

    Christmas at an orphanage that is not as pleasant as benefactors believe. Echoes of Dahl, again, making humour from the grim.

    My New Year’s Eve Cheese Crispies

    I hate the taste and texture of cooked cheese, but Winterson’s attitude to the change of year is inspirational.

    What would I prefer not to repeat?

    You can heal the past. It may be fixed as fact… but it isn’t fixed in the ongoing story of our lives.

    Even if there was precious little, that little is precious.

    The Lion, The Unicorn And Me

    The deep black sky had the new moon cut in it and the fields beyond the town were visible under that moon, but as a dream is visible to one who sleeps.

    Unlike the dog in an earlier story, the narrating animal in this retelling of the nativity worked for me. Jesus’ birth was a beginning and an ending:

    Time past and future roaring around us like a wind, and eternity about us, like angels, like a star.

    My New Year’s Day Steak Sandwich

    Resolve to do things differently, not necessarily better. Then make steak sandwiches and “cut in half with a lethal knife”!

    The Glow-Heart

    Learning to live after bereavement is not a betrayal of the loved one lost, but a fulfilment of what they would wish for you.

    My Twelfth Night Fish Cakes

    Epiphany is about opposites and reversal: Lord of Misrule, pantomime, and the birth of a child heralding the death of the existing order. Oh, and capitalism is bad.

    Christmas Greetings from the Author

    Memory, as a creative act, allows us to reawaken the dead, or sometime to lay them to rest.

    Winterson shares her final thoughts on the personal and historical baggage of Christmas, miracles, and memories.

    Religious festivals are “time outside of time” and teach us to look out for miracles, which are unexpected and often inconvenient intrusions in space-time, seasoned with fate and chance.

    Other Quotes

    • Dickens’ Christmas Carol is “a story so powerful it can survive The Muppets” – though in fairness to those gaudy characters, their version is pretty accurate in terms of plot.

    • For Mrs Winterson, “Life was a pre-death experience”.

    • “Time is a boomerang not an arrow.”

    • “My mother returned, in what seemed to be a hailstorm, though maybe that was her personal weather. She carried a goose, half-in, half-out of her shopping bag, its slack head hung sideways like a dream nobody can remember.”

    Image source:
    http://www.falmouthpubliclibrary.org/…

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