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BOOK REVIEW: Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson

| 16 December 2016 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson

Penguin Vintage
November 2016
Hardcover, $29.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo




Joy to the world, Christmas Days is a collection of twelve short stories and other tid-bits that celebrate the festive season. The book is written by Jeanette Winterson (Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?) an author who by her own admission loves Christmas and this could be due to the fact that she was adopted by a family of Pentecostal Christians. Winterson states on the cover that Christmas is: “A tradition of celebration, sharing and giving. And what better way to do that than with a story?”


This book is a rag-tag collection of different things including 12 short stories and some information about different Christmas traditions. For example, Winterson shares how the combining fruit and mincemeat was a method used in Victorian times to disguise spoiled meat. She also says that the actual holiday was considered a midwinter festival in the Northern Hemisphere; one where religious faith would help distract the mind from descending into a depression inspired by the cold weather and shorter days.

“Christmas Days” also includes some of Winterson’s own autobiographical anecdotes about the holiday. She describes the Christmases she spent with crime fiction writer, Ruth Rendell where the pair enjoyed a mix of great food and terrible Christmas television.

Winterson also includes some anecdotes from her autobiography, Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? One of which relives the time her adopted, dotty, manic-depressive Christian mother served up a bunch of recipes containing pineapple for her daughter’s best friend from Oxford. The reason for this was because the acquaintance was Vicky Licorish, an English woman of Caribbean descent, so she must naturally love anything containing pineapple. These biographical yarns are accompanied by a number of straight-forward Christmas recipes for things like fruit mince pies, gravlax, sherry trifle and turkey biryani.

The short stories in this volume contain a number of magical and supernatural elements including ghosts; her story The SnowMama follows a snowman who acquires human qualities; and the previously published The Lion, The Unicorn & Me, is a retelling of the nativity tale from the perspective of the donkey.

Christmas in New York was this reader’s favourite, and is a fun and snappy read in which a scrooge discovers a Christmas tree and presents that materialise in his apartment out of thin air. This one also includes great lines like: “Santa was an alcoholic” and “Yeah, but he spends the rest of the year in rehab.”

Christmas Days is the perfect medicine for the Christmas curmudgeon. It’s a highly personal collection of stories, recipes and musings on life and love that are designed to be shared and celebrated with your family and friends this festive season. Christmas Days is ultimately a kind of unconventional and enchanting love letter to the holidays from Winterson, and a book that is as jolly and fun as Santa Claus himself.

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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