Happy Jólabókaflóð

It’s our second year of jólabókaflóð and I’m even more enamoured with this tradition! Not least because I have done VERY well out of it. 

Huge variety in the books sent and received (and I suspect we all have our eye on at least one other to borrow at some point!)

My elves were very generous! 

The Wood beyond the World by William Morris, 1894. 

When the wife of Golden Walter betrays him for another man, he leaves home on a trading voyage to avoid the necessity of a feud with her family. However, his efforts are fruitless, as word comes to him en route that his wife’s clan has killed his father. As a storm then carries him to a faraway country, the effect of this news is merely to sunder his last ties to his homeland. Walter comes to the castle of an enchantress, from which he rescues a captive maiden in a harrowing adventure (or rather, she rescues him). 

William Morris (1834 – 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain. 

AMAZON 

Trees have starred in stories ever since Ovid described the nymph Daphne’s metamorphosis into a laurel, and the landscape of literature has long been enlivened by wild woodlands, sacred groves, and fertile orchards. This delightful collection ranges from Ovid to Austen and from Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest (via Thomas Love Peacock’s Maid Marian) to Washington Irving’s ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. Here are forest-haunted fairy tales both classic (the Brothers Grimm) and inventively retold (Angela Carter). There is room in these woods for comedy as well as terror, in Stella Gibbons’s Cold Comfort Farm, and Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Head Tree’. Notable writers from around the world contribute arboreal fiction-from South Africa, Finland, France, Zimbabwe, Russia, Martinique, and India, as well as Britain, Ireland, Canada and America. From Daphne du Maurier’s ‘The Apple Tree’ to R. K. Narayan’s ‘Under the Banyan Tree’, the sheer range of stories in these pages will leave readers refreshed and dazzled.

AMAZON 

When Robert Kemble stumbles across Victoria Lyndon in a hedgerow maze, he can’t believe his eyes. The girl who’d torn him in two, who let him plan an elopement and then left him standing by the side of the road, was suddenly within arm’s reach, and even though his fury still knew no bounds, she was impossible to resist.

Victoria’s father had told her an earl would never marry a vicar’s daughter, and he was right. Robert had promised her marriage, then danced off to London while she suffered the shame of a foiled elopement. But even though Victoria doesn’t particularly enjoy her new life as a governess, when Robert offers her a job of a different sort – his mistress – she refuses, unable to sacrifice her honour, even for him.

But Robert won’t take no for an answer, and he vows to make her his, through any means possible. Can these star-crossed lovers learn to trust again? And is love really sweeter the second time round?

AMAZON 

Eleanor Lyndon was minding her own business when a lord of the realm fell – quite literally – into her life. When Charles Wycombe, the dashing and incorrigible Earl of Billington, toppled out of a tree and landed at Ellie’s feet, neither suspected that such an inauspicious meeting would lead to marriage. But Charles must find a bride before his thirtieth birthday or he’ll lose his fortune. And Ellie needs a husband or her father’s odious fiancée will choose one for her. And so they agree to wed.

Ellie never dreamed she’d marry a stranger, especially one with such a devastating combination of rakish charm and debonair wit. She tries to keep him at arm’s length, at least until she discovers the man beneath the handsome surface. But Charles can be quite persuasive – even tender – when he puts his mind to it, and Ellie finds herself slipping under his seductive spell. And as one kiss leads to another, this unlikely pair discovers that their marriage is not so inconvenient after all…and just might lead to love.

AMAZON 

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

AMAZON 

‘This crazy world whirled around her, men and women dwarfed by toys and puppets, where even the birds are mechanical and the few human figures went masked… She was in the night once again, and the doll was herself.’

One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the home of her childhood, she is sent to live with relatives she has never met: gentle Aunt Margaret, mute since her wedding day; and her brothers, Francie and Finn. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip, who loves only the toys he makes in his workshop: clockwork roses and puppets that are life-size – and uncannily life-like.

AMAZON 

Freya Abalone has a big, messy, wonderful family. She has an exciting career as a celebrity chef. She has a new home that makes her feel safe.

But behind the happy front, Freya feels pulled in a hundred directions. Life has thrown Freya some lemons – and she’s learned how to juggle! But she’s keeping a secret from her family, and soon something is going to crashing down…

All families have their struggles and strengths. So can Freya pull everyone – and herself – together when they need it most?

AMAZON

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