Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas Magic - Cecelia Ahern

Short and sweet this one as its Christmas and there are so many things still to do and so little time

I didn’t like this book and to be honest I think I knew I wasn’t going to before I started to read it. A collection of short stories all based in Ireland some of which feature Christmas some don’t. Which was the first part I found strange. Why call a book Christmas Magic but then make it not about Christmas? Nobody is going to buy this book in July with a title like that so why not call it something else with a story or two in about Christmas? Since the meeting I have noticed a flood of Christmas books in the supermarkets which leads me to think this is probably another one that is cashing in on the season.

I was only present (Christmas book club – present get it? Sorry!) for the first half of the meeting as a Christmas Party beckoned. I didn’t really get chance to properly speak to people about the book but in the short time I was there I got the impression that I wasn’t alone with my views. This is interesting when you consider some of our members don’t like sex and violence in their books and tend to like the more gentile choices.

Interesting then to compare it to the Little Village School by Gervaise Phinn, one we reviewed quite recently. It was similar in some ways – stereotypes, happy ending, girl gets boy, yet we really liked Village School and found it charming more than irritating. I think this is highly down to the short story aspect.

We all seemed to approach the book with an inward groan even though we haven’t reviewed a short story novel before. The author in the Afterwards said that short stories can be very formulaic – ‘2000 words split in to 1000 sections with a cliff hanger in the middle’ which I found disappointing as I found this was very true with the book despite her pointing out it was a fault with short stories.

I think we all found it predictable, boring and repetitive. None of the characters stayed with me, there was no grit, no emotion, just story after story of hard done to woman who suddenly has an epiphany and then either gets the tall dark stranger or rights the wrongs that have been done to her over many many years. I hadn’t finished it before Book Club and nearly didn’t finish reading it all (But you know me by now, have to see it to the end).

Anyone has anybody read any interesting short stories? I would be interested to hear if you have. We gave the book a 3.

The book did get me thinking about Irish literature. Let me make it clear I’m talking about modern Irish Literature not the greats of days gone by. The Maeve Binchy’s, the Marian Keys and the Cecelia Aherns – all who write much of a muchness when it comes to literature. There is a girl, a big family, perhaps an element of religion and tradition thrown in and some problematic relatives, perhaps with a big secret. In the end the girl always gets the boy despite him being hopelessly above her league, and she manages to solve all her problems in the process. Now I love Binchy – have read everything by her and grew up pouring over the Glass Lake and Evening Class but I moved on when I realised I had read the same book over and over again just with a different title. I also loved PS I Love You by Ahern which I thought to a certain extent broke the mould. This leads me on to my question of the month – ‘Irish Literature today discuss’