Well, it’s 24th December, so it could only be a festive themed book I review today, right? Saying that, it was obviously the title I was going on here as, it turns out, Christmas Pudding doesn’t feature an excessive amount of Christmas content.
Opening sentence: Four o’clock on the first of November, a dark and foggy day.
Sixteen characters in search of an author.
(Disclaimer: the above title is a sentence from the book, rather than me being scathing…)
Set in the 1930s, we are introduced to sixteen characters from the English upper-class whose lives entwine over the Christmas period. Paul Fotheringay is our lead, an author who wrote what he thought was a work of serious fiction – but is in fact hailed as a comedic masterpiece, much to his displeasure. He sets out to change his reputation to that of a serious writer by undertaking a memoir of society lady and poet, Lady Maria Bobbin.
Christmas Day was organised by Lady Bobbin with the thoroughness and attention to detail of a general leading his army into battle.
This quest sees him, along with help from his friends, gain a coveted place at Maria Bobbin’s relative (and holder of Maria’s diaries – essential research), Lady Bobbin’s estate. Lady Bobbin is very, let’s say, old-school (she would totally have voted for Brexit) – her opinion is the only correct one. So there’s a mix of grating and charming characters. The plot ticks along at a quick pace and I did find myself hooked in.
Overall, Christmas Pudding is a great glimpse into the upper-class social circles of the 1930s, but not as Christmas-infused as I was hoping. Hailed as a comedic story – yes, it had its moments but is very much a snap-shot of its time. The aforementioned sixteen characters gather for Christmas dinner at Lady Bobbin’s, but that is essentially more of a sub-plot. I guess I was looking for a little more mince pies and jolliness.