For my Christmas read this year I thought I’d try something a little different – some short stories (16, to be precise) in the form of A Scandinavian Christmas: Festive Tales for a Nordic Noël. I read a few an evening over a week, enjoying the idea of getting into the Christmas spirit in a small way each day.
However. This is where I have to say if you are looking for a heart-warming, happy Christmas vibe then A Scandinavian Christmas is not the book for you.
The other side of Christmas
While themes you might associate with the positive side of Christmas are here – such as family, kindness, forgiveness, religious overtones, relationships with grandparents, the overwhelming focus is actually on stories with a much darker and sometimes quite depressing message.
You might recognise a few of these
The set of stories are written in a timespan from 1845 – 2003, so there is a wide scope in regards to the tone and ideas. I liked how the repeated theme of nature crops up, particularly the Christmas Rose, which featured in two of the short stories and was about as uplifting as these tales got.
I appreciate that these stories tap into the dark side of traditional fairy tales, indeed Hans Christian Anderson does write a few featured in A Scandinavian Christmas including one that I do actually remember my gran telling me. The harrowing story of The Little Match Girl – but I didn’t realise it was written by Hans Christian Anderson. So maybe there is something in generations passing on distressing tales to make you appreciate things aren’t so bad? I mean, it’s heart-breaking. If you’re in need of a good cry, give it a read.
It was dreadfully cold; it was snowing fast, and was almost dark, as evening came on – the last evening of the year.the little match girl
So, don’t be fooled by its hygge inspired cover – a cheery Christmas read this is not. BUT a delve into traditional fairy-tale style storytelling it most definitely is. A fascinating glimpse into this genre and great if you want an alternative Christmas themed story!
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Get your copy of A Scandinavian Christmas here;
- Published by Vintage Classics October 2021;
- 208 pages;
- My rating: