Book Review: A Christmas Cornucopia

Now that Advent Sunday has passed, I am transitioning well and truly into Christmas mode. Trees are being trimmed, jollity abounds, and the strains of Christmas music can be heard as I busy myself writing cards, running errands, and planning fun. I truly adore this season, as Advent moves towards Christmas proper, and have been accused more than once of being a little bit of a Christmas geek.

How perfect, then, that Penguin sent me a copy of Mark Forsyth’s A Christmas Cornucopia to review in the lead up to the festive season. I’m a big fan of Forsyth’s other books (being an English teacher I’ve been gifted other books of his in the past and particularly enjoyed The Etymologicon) and was happy to hear he’d turned his talents to the delights of Christmas.

Forsyth’s tone is a unique one – it always reminds me of a brilliant professor holding forth on a subject they know well. Whatever twists and turns the narrative may take, you never doubt that you are in expert hands and are quite happy to follow along with Forsyth as he traverses eras, traditions and cultures. Rather than employing a dull list format, this is a book where the prose flows, taking you on a journey, and the whole book is suffused with humour. It really was a treat to sit down and read a chapter or two after lunch or before bed.

The content of the book is fascinating. Despite being a bit of a Christmas nut I was delighted to discover that there was much contained within that I did not know already. Each chapter brings plenty of information and charm, but I think chapter 5 (entitled Santa Claus: The Biography) is my favourite; I feel I am quite the expert on Saint Nick now.

This is a sweet and illuminating book and I think it would make a lovely gift. I think I’ll be sending copies to a couple of friends who love this season too, and I think it would be appreciated by fans of Christmas, history and culture alike.

Disclaimer: As mentioned above, I was gifted a copy of the book. All opinions and Christmassy glee are my own.

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