Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas with Anne of Green Gables and other stories by L. M. Montgomery or Anne of Green Gables has a Christmas book, hot diggity dog...


Christmas with Anne of Green Gables

This short story was interesting to read because several years ago I read the first book in the Anne of Green Gables series, which shares the same name as the series. I remember rather enjoying it, but that it took awhile for me to get through because of the writing style was a bit dull to me as an individual that likes mystery and intrigue in their books. Having enjoyed it I remember bits and pieces of it and this felt like it was torn directly from the book , which made me question if perhaps I did read it in the first book. I will eventually restart the series and if this is in it I will laugh for them putting it in a new book.

This short story is about Matthew seeing that Anne doesn't have the same clothes as other girls in town. Since it is around Christmas he decides Anne must have a new instyle dress to wear with puff sleeves. He tries to purchase it in a store to no avail, so he gets the help of Rachel Lynde. I won't go further than that into the plot of the story, but overall this was a very satisfying Christmas story. It focused on the holiday and the gift giving of the season, so it was a very pleasant addition to this collection even if it felt like it was pulled from those books. 

Christmas at Four Winds

This fits some where in the book timeline, but I have not gotten that far. As a result, I felt that it contained some minor spoilers to events that occur within. Luckily, as someone that grew up around the series from various family members, I knew the basic overall plot elements. This being said, however, this story should be skipped by people that have not read the entire series and intend to read it eventually. 

This story takes place in the home of the Blyths, who are having a Christmas dinner. The story focuses heavily on one of the guests who is a bit of a gossip. This character is encouraged by a couple of the male dinner guests. While this story does take place at a Christmas dinner, I did feel that it could have been written surrounding any dinner party. This fact makes the story feel a little out of place in a Christmas collection, but overall the story is still interesting to read for those that enjoy L. M. Montgomery's work, specifically those that like Anne.

The Josephs' Christmas

This was a beautiful tale of family, helping others, and Christmas. Out of the first three stories in this collection I would say this was the best representation of what Christmas is for me. It is a magical time of year where we try to get what we can for each other, regardless of how much or how little we have. This story revolves around a family that has very little. The Josephs have love for each other though and kind-hearts, which goes a long way when they receive a knock on their door from people needing a place to stay. It is through their kindness that the family ends up having one of the best Christmases ever. This tale truly warmed my heart and I would recommend this book solely to read this particular part of the collection.  

Aunt Cyrilla's Christmas Basket 

When I began this story I rolled my eyes because I immediately knew what it was going to be about. Lucy Rose hates that her Aunt brings a basket with her every time they take the train to see relatives. I knew that this would be one of those stories where the person complaining learns to love whatever they are complaining about, but what took me by surprise was that I enjoyed it. While there was a simplicity to the story and predictable nature, I enjoyed the time period of it and how that intersects with part of the story. In our modern age a train  getting stuck seems unrealistic, but when looked at by that time period I took on a different perspective. This differing perspective made me feel aglow from the warmth I felt from this tales light. It showed me that even though stories can be clich├ęd there can still be a certain magic contained within them. 

A Christmas Mistake

Out of the stories thus far this was perhaps my least favorite, but it progressed to a satisfying ending. The story starts with a mother announcing to her children that they will not have a Christmas dinner. The story then progresses when they are mistakenly invited to a dinner. This story gelled with a strong sense of Christmas since it is a time of forgiveness and getting over past hurts to come together, so that theme was nice to have in the collection. While none of the stories feel skippable, besides the minor issue with time frame of the second in regards to the Anne series, this is the closest. It was enjoyable to read, but not the best either.

A Christmas Inspiration 

I really thought that the Josephs' Christmas story was going to be my favorite one in the collection, but I feel that has changed upon reading this one. This story embodies exactly what Christmas should and is about. We should be willing to love, help, and appreciate our neighbors. This story takes place in a boarding house. Most of the girls have gone home for the holiday season, but five girls for various reasons have had to stay at the boarding house. They recognize upon cheerfully gossiping about their own Christmas presents that another boarder was alone. The girls spread the Christmas cheer, even though they do not like the individual much. The ultimate lesson in this story is a classic christmas cliche of it being better to give than to recieve, which is a cliche I love and appreciate. Giving to others has always made my heart the happiest, so I believe that is why I rather liked this story. I also liked it because it didn't involve a family, but instead a group of girls at various stages of their own life that saw a fellow human in need. A beautiful little tale and definitely one filled with Christmas cheer.

The Christmas Surprise at Enderly Road

This was a rare treat as the main character of the story was a male. This appears to go against the comfortable grain of the female protagonist that Montgomery normally goes with. Two male friends come across a little girl crying about the lack of being able to decorate her school and the boys decide to help out! Another great example of what the holiday season should be about; helping each other and making small children feel that the time of the year is magical. I also liked that this story again did not focus on family, but instead on the spirit of helping that is a classic Christmas theme. This story was and is a great addition to this Christmas collection.  It keeps that happy aglow feeling that came with the previous story going. I believe if this much Christmas warmth is to be had by the remaining tales even the Grinch himself would be pressed not to feel his heart grow a million times over.

The Falsom's Christmas Dinner

At the time of reading this particular story I can tell I am getting a little burned out on the time period that Montgomery wrote these stories. I feel that I enjoy much more contemporary pieces than her work, but so far it has been interesting to read something from a drastically different way of life and time. That being said the Falsoms are a brother and sister who have to separate due to unfortunate circumstances. They feel that they may get a reprieve when an uncle comes out of the woodworks.  They know that they must put their best foot forward, even with the little they have. Unfortunately the meal they cook is taken. This leads to the Christmas part of the story, which is about loving your neighbors and offering forgiveness at this time of year.  I enjoyed this theme as it was portrayed in this story and the ending is a cheerful one that made this a great addition to this collection as well. I may not be enjoying her writing style as they feel old, but I will say I am enjoying the gleam of hope that these tales are portraying. 

Christmas at Red Butte

So the cheesy factor is running a little high in this collection, but this can be awesome when it is in a Christmas collection because let's be a bit honest with ourselves Christmas can and is cheesy. It is almost the definition of the holiday season. This story is the epitome of cheesy Christmas cliches though in that it involves a family that doesn't have enough, someone saving them, and then someone returning that was no longer with the family. It is every single cliche wrapped into one about 8 page story. I did laugh due to time period comtext because four dollars bought a lot. I could not fathom getting the items that are mentioned for that price, so context is definitely playing an important part of reading this collection. The way that Christmas was saved in this story came out of nowhere. It felt a bit forced and as a result it drags the story down. It is an okay Christmas story. If it was by itself I would not recommend it, but as part of this collection it helps round  it out with another important Christmas cliche that I don't feel had been seen thus far in the collection, which is that return of someone thought lost. Christmas stories love to bring back people, so it does provide that necessary element to the overall collection. 

Clorinda's Gift

The message of this story was another good addition to the overall collection; People must give from their hearts, not just things bought. Presents should have meaning behind them. Careful consideration of something that the person would want to have or have done for them. Clorinda learns this through her Aunt Emmy. I feel that this story serves the theme element needed for the collection and makes it more fully rounded. I am not sure I would feel that the collection was entirely complete without it, so it is a rather strong addition. It also feels enough like a Christmas Story to warrants its place within.  I appreciate that each tale thus far has not overlapped greatly thematically. This has made reading each new tale interesting, even if it is just because I am interested in seeing which Christmas cliche is used by Montgomery next. 

The Brothers Who Failed

This is both my favorite and least favorite stories, which may leave you a bit puzzled but let me explain. This story is the strongest story wise in the entire set, partially because it is one of the longer pieces contained within. The issue, for me, is that it does not feel altogether Christmas-like. This story could be told around any family get-together. This results in it being my least favorite story in the collection, but it is one for content that I would and will gladly read again in my life. The story revolves around the Monroe family reunion. The least successful one overhears the matriarchal family member say he is an utterly failure, but we discover the successes of all the other family members somehow originates or stems from him. This is a great short story about how we do not always know the worth of a man by simply looking at what they do or do not have. They may be richer in ways than you may ever recognize. I enjoyed that element of this story and as I stated had it been in another collection slightly revised it would have been perhaps my favorite one. I enjoy stories where we discover small truths about people that is beyond our immediate understanding. It is when you dig deeper that you find the true worth of a man. That is why I will return to this story one day, it made me remember to not judge based on our initial thoughts or what we think we know. We must know that there is life that occurs that we are never privy to. When we recognize this we will not be as judgemental, which is a lesson that this matriarchal figure learned. 

The End of the Young Family Feud

The collection ends with a story of mistakes and forgiveness. The young girls are visiting one uncle in the same town that another uncle that their part of the family is feuding with lives in. This makes for and link awkward Christmas for the girls when they end up in the wrong house. I have to say that this wasn't a favorite story in the collection. It also suffers from feeling that it could have taken place at any moment of the year, so it does not feel like a true Christmas story. This one also lacks the heart of the previous, so it does not come even close to becoming a favorite or even a story I would want to reread at a later time.  The story is lacking in themes that are not presented better in other stories in the collection. It also lacks any emotional high points due to this.  It feels like this last story could have been edited out and the last one could have been the previous one making it at least end on a strong, even if uneven, note. This does not add much and almost feels like it begins to subtract when you compare it across the board with the other stories. In a short story collection, I feel, weaker stories should be placed in the middle. This helps to make them rise above mediocrity slightly because the reader is trying to trudge along the collection anyways at that point. The first and last stories should be the strongest to give good vibes to the reader when reading, so they are left feeling a warmth from the entire collected works. This did not do that, but altogether this is still an enjoyable Christmas collection. 

Overall Rating 


Reason - Overall this is neutral Christmas collection. There are great stories contained within and there are others that are not so Christmasy. It is great to read for at least one Christmas though, but it is not one I could see someone wanting to spend every single Christmas with, thus it received a slightly lower star rating due to this.

GOODREADS PROGRESS (So you can see what I was saying while reading it on GOODREADS)-

READING PROGRESS

11/28marked as:currently-reading
11/28page 35
35.0%"I have finished the first couple of stories in the book. I am glad that I started with this particular book as I feel that it will probably be my least favorite of them all and it would have gotten a worse review if I had read it in the middle or near the end of the Christmas reads I plan for this holiday season."
11/30page 47
47.0%"I finished "The Joseph" story contained within. It was a good short story."
12/06page 67
67.0%"I am still progressing in this book. I read at least one story a night. I have been reading other Christmas stories to try to get the library blog site updated, so this has been a little back burnered. I hope though to still have it completed before the end of the week though. I am writing the review as I go though so that every story is reviewed as I complete it when it is still fresh in my mind."

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