Author Patricia Nicol reveals the best books on: Christmas with a difference

Author Patricia Nicol unveils a selection of the best books about: Christmas of a special kind

  • Patricia Nichol fears that many of us will be led to create “a perfect Christmas”.
  • In a Maigret Christmas party, a Parisian detective works on the holidays
  • At the weekend, three friends clean up their deceased friend Sylvie’s beach house

“It’s starting to look a lot like s *** mas,” I said last week. This was before the new Tier 4 ruling really broke things up. These are really times when even an optimist’s bubble will burst.

When it comes to bubbles, how many of them will have their usual Christmas or even what they were hoping for a week ago? Mine is spent at home, just with my immediate family. Although I’m sad not to see my parents – back home alone in Scotland – I still look forward to a solemn day of feasting and giving.

Charlotte Wood's weekend (pictured)

Patricia Nichol reveals the best books on unconventional Christmas celebrations, including Georges Simenon’s Maigret Christmas (pictured left) and The Weekend by Charlotte Wood (pictured right)

I’m afraid too many of us are being led to create “a perfect Christmas”. One comforting lesson from fiction is that the simpler our Christmas ambitions, the less likely they are to blow up in our faces. In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Agatha Christie’s Belgian truth is used to investigate the gruesome murder of the evil millionaire Simeon Lee. Lee gathered his family together for a Christmas party more in the spirit of manipulative puppet masters than of fun father families. He doesn’t even make it after Christmas Eve.

In a Maigret Christmas party, Georges Simenon’s Parisian detective also works on the holidays. On Christmas morning, he is visited by two female neighbors who ask him to investigate a little girl’s claim that Santa Claus visits that night. The alleged intruder left her an expensive doll. Maigret is fascinated.

Charlotte Wood’s weekend shows a hot Australian summer Christmas, another working holiday. Three friends in their ’70s – former restaurateur Jude, academic Wendy, and actress Adele – gather to spend the weekend vacating their late friend Sylvie’s beach house. Tensions arise.

This year everyone has permission to slack off. Whether alone, at work or with a crowd, wish you a Merry Christmas. Hopefully these issues will be out of sight next year.

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