Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Christmas Holiday - Reading My Books

Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham came to me via a set of I think 8 Christmas books.  Some of which I knew were definitely Christmas stories - A Christmas Carol for example - and others which I knew weren't - Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome - however, I thought that apart from the Ransome one they would all be Christmas based tales - especially Christmas Holiday.

I turns out that I was wrong.  Christmas Holiday is instead quite possibly the least Christmassy Christmas book ever written - in my personal opinion!  The only mention made of anything remotely Christmassy is the attendance of two of the characters at midnight mass on Christmas Eve.  Are you getting the idea that I was disappointed in this book and irked that it wasn't a Christmas story at all?

I will go back though and tell you about it and you can make up your own mind.

Charley Mason comes from self made stock, his grandparents were humble gardeners and cooks and made their way up in society and the family are now property owners, relatively well off and very interested in art, particularly modern art - modern for the 1930's which is when the story is set.

Charley goes on holiday over Christmas to Paris to visit his childhood friend Simon who is living there and working as a journalist.  Charley meets up with Simon and Simon takes him to a "gentlemans club" on Christmas Eve and introduces him to Princess Olga.  (Gentlemans Club is a euphemism for something else by the way, use your imagination...).  It turns out that Princess Olga is in fact a Russian lady called Lydia.  She has escaped from Russia and has no family, her parents are dead.  Charley and Lydia attend midnight mass which Lydia sobs all the way through.  Charley takes her out for a drink and eventually back to his hotel and over the course of Christmas Day the two sit in his room and she tells him about her husband who has been transported for murder.  The author tells us at length about the husbands crime and how he was caught and the court case.  It takes up a good portion of the book.

The action then moves to Charley meeting up with Simon and Simon tells Charley that he introduced Lydia to him because he thought it would be fun for him to sleep with the wife of a murderer.  Simon knows Lydia because he covered the case for his newspaper.  Charley and Lydia then go to the Louvre and then action moves again to another club where they go to listen to a Russian singer, Lydia makes contact with someone who can introduce her to two men who were transported and now returned to France and who can give her news of her husband.  Following a meeting with the two men the story fizzles out to an end and Charley returns home.  Although to be honest I skipped through the last 20% of the book because I was loosing the will to go on having tried to get through this book for 3 weeks now.  It is only 250 pages long.

That is it really.  A very horrid story about murder and Simon who isn't a very nice person at all as it turns out and Charley should be well rid of him in my opinion.  It wasn't Christmassy, there was no air of Christmas in Paris - as you might have thought from pictures of the Eiffel Tower on the cover - and nothing to redeem this story at all in my personal opinion.  I only kept reading it in fact because I have already given up on a couple of other books this year and because of my hatred of giving up I carried on.  I should have stopped reading it a lot sooner!  I was hoping that there might be some satisfactory outcome.  There wasn't.

So, would I recommend it, what happens next and what is my score out of 10?  I think you can answer those questions for yourself already.  No, I don't recommend it.  I have no idea if this is representative of Maugham's work, but I didn't enjoy this book and I cannot imagine that anyone else would either.  My copy goes to the charity shop - don't pick it up and buy it!  My score is a resounding 0 out of 10.  The lowest score I have ever given a book!

I continue on with my Christmas reading, and hope that the next book - by Debbie Macomber will be more cheerful and more Christmassy!!!

Sorry this isn't a more cheerful review, to try and find some more cheerful ones you can read my other reviews here.

Happy reading!



  1. I have never read Somerset Maugham, although feel as if I should having done English Literature at university. But I certainly won't start with this one; I would also have been looking for a wonderful Christmas atmosphere in beautiful Paris.

  2. Debbie Macomber will definitely be more Christmassy!

  3. I read most of Somerset Maugham's books when I was younger, but I don't recognize this one. Boy does it sound depressing.

  4. That's too bad. I've not read much, if anything, of Maugham and this book doesn't encourage me to begin. The cover art is quite deceptive. Hope your next read is something more cheering.

  5. No, I don't like the story.. I'm not going to read it..

  6. I’m not surprised! Bet you could write a beautiful Christmas story, Amy!

  7. Sounds dreadful...hope your next book is one you love ❤️ ��-Joyce

  8. Oh, too bad! The cover is so pretty! Perhaps you could rip it off and use it for a home-made journal cover! :) Debbie Macomber should be much better! x Karen

  9. The cover of the book is attractive, but the plot of the story sounds heavy-going. I hope you find a more uplifting read. Have a relaxing weekend.

  10. "the least Christmassy Christmas book ever written" - made me laugh :-)

  11. The Debbie Macomber will be much better, I love her books. And perfect for you with all the wool and creating that usually goes on in her stories!
    I always get the urge to eat salad and soup when reading DM books. x

  12. Yikes, sounds disappointing. I've read a couple of the Debbie Macomber ones and it will probably be more Christmas-y. I don't remember if I particularly liked her books. I admit it's been a while since I read one!

  13. Ha - well 0 out of 10 saves me getting this book! Maybe one for the next jumble sale?
    Have a great week
    Wren x


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