Thursday, December 17, 2009

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

Title: Miracle and Other Christmas Stories
Author: Connie Willis
ISBN: 0553580485, Bantam Books, 2000
Genre: Short Stories
Rating: A+

First Line: I love Christmas.

Connie Willis, one of my favorite authors, loves Christmas and doesn't much care for Hans Christian Andersen:

Nobody, before Andersen came along, had thought of writing such depressing Christmas stories. Even Dickens, who had killed a fair number of children in his books, didn't kill Tiny Tim. But Andersen, apparently hell-bent on ruining everyone's holidays, froze innocent children, melted loyal toys into lumps of lead, and chopped harmless fir trees who were just standing there in the forest, minding their own business, into kindling.

Willis goes on to say in her Introduction to Miracle and Other Christmas Stories that she prefers Miracle on 34th Street to It's a Wonderful Life when watching holiday films (so do I), and she joyfully rolls with abandon through lists of her favorite Christmas stories. What she sets out to do in this book is provide all sorts of well-written, fun holiday short stories, and she succeeds brilliantly.

For those of you who are more familiar with Willis's science fiction novels, be warned that these stories aren't exclusively in that genre. There's something for everyone. For example, "Inn" is a church choir story with a time-travel twist; "Miracle" is a delightful duel between Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life; and "Cat's Paw" is a British country house Christmas mystery.

My two favorites are "Adaptation" about a divorced bookstore employee trying to spend Christmas Eve with his daughter, and "In Coppelius's Toyshop" in which a world-class jerk gets his just desserts. And if that isn't enough, Willis includes lists of her twelve favorite Christmas stories and movies at the very end.

Normally I don't seek out holiday-themed reads. If they fall into my hands, all's well and good. I'm very glad this particular Christmas book fell into my hands this year. I love Christmas but have found myself lacking the true spirit. (I don't want to sound like Hans Christian Andersen, so I won't go into the reasons why I feel this way.) Miracle and Other Christmas Stories went a very long way in bringing some much-needed cheer into my rather bleak frame of mind. Connie Willis continues to be one of my Go-To Authors.

[Source: Paperback Swap. Fulfills my requirements in the 2009 Holiday Reading Challenge hosted by Nely at All About {n}.]


  1. Sorry to see you're lacking Christmas spirit this year. I hope all's well with you. I'm glad you enjoyed this book!

  2. That's a timely review -- and may be just what I need. Connie Willis has been a favorite of mine since I stumbled on The Doomsday Book. Thanks!

  3. I had to travel down to this post as books which you award a C or a D do not really tempt me.

    This one sounds good - though I like Anderson a lot. He is just not a very Christmassy writer, and I don´t think he appreciated children very much. I am sure he wrote all his stories for himself, not for lively, noisy children.

  4. Kathy-- All's well with Denis and me. I'm just losing dear friends left and right. Thanks for asking.

    Marty-- You're welcome. This time of year can be rough. Hang in there! *HUGS*

    Dorte-- You make Andersen sound like my twin! LOL

  5. Happy belated holidays, Cathy. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I don't seek out holiday-themed books either usually (instead I avoid them like the plague), but I'm a big Willis fan, so I'm happy to hear this one is worth seeking out!


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