Christmas Books

As has been noted previously in this column, Trollope sometimes delivered the unexpected. This makes it doubly shocking from a writer who often eschewed suspense and gave away the plot (or at least who ended up with whom) within the first volume of his novels. Thus when he turned in a Christmas tale for The Graphic  in 1873, it was Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, set in the blistering heat of the Australian summer in the bush with the Christmas meal partaken at the end in sweltering conditions after dealing with a bushfire set by Heathcote’s neighbours in an effort to destroy his business. Not much Christmas spirit in evidence among them it seems, though another neighbour Giles Medlicot does turn out to be a good guy after all (though again this is fairly well telegraphed as the love interest which Trollope felt obliged to include in all his stories actually focessed on him and Heathcote’s sister-in-law Kate.

I recall that this novella did not go down well with my local book club as a Christmas read (it actually got nil points from one reader in almost Eurovision standard voting).  It was too unlike Dicken’s A Christmas Carol for its own good.

Bah humbug!


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