Curiously, I like Connie Willis' short stories much more than her novels. They're friendly, intimate, and largely calm, with an enchanting sense of humor. That's especially true of this collection of Christmas stories, most of which were new to me.
Christmas legitimately means different things to different people. No one 'owns' it - not the Christians who named it, not the Germanic people whose traditions were coopted, not a horned guy with a bag of coal, not a bunch of elves and reindeer. Connie Willis, though, is squarely in the Christian religious camp. The stories here are heavy on religious symbolism, though often in a light-hearted way. They're equally heavy on religious philosophy, and there they're more heavy-handed. I found the moralism a bit of a slog at times. I know - complaining about the Christian message of Christmas stories - but see above.
Willis is equally heavy on references to popular culture. While in places it works well - e.g. in the homage to Miracle on 34th Street (which which I heartily disagree) - it becomes wearing after a time. On the whole, though, it's a fun, uplifting collection by a very talented writer. The best stories in the book were:
- Miracle - in homage to Miracle on 34th Street
- Inn - explaining what happened to Joseph and Mary on the way to Bethlehem
- Adaptation - the least Christmasy of the bunch, about an aging actress and an ingenue
- Epiphany - sometimes divine messages leave a little to be desired
I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.