Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review Round-Up: PENGUIN CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

PENGUIN CHRISTMAS CLASSICS
A delightful new holiday series featuring five classic Christmas tales
in luxurious hardcover editions

 A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
CHRISTMAS AT THOMPSON HALL: And Other Christmas Stories by Anthony Trollope
A MERRY CHRISTMASAnd Other Christmas Stories
by Louisa May Alcott
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Nikolai Gogol
THE NUTCRACKER by E. T. A. Hoffmann


Penguin Christmas Classics honor the power of literature to keep on giving through the ages. The five volumes in the series are not only our most beloved Christmas tales; they also have given us much of what we love about the holiday itself. A CHRISTMAS CAROL revived in Victorian England such Christmas hallmarks as the Christmas tree, holiday cards, and caroling. The Yuletide yarns of Anthony Trollope popularized throughout the British Empire and around the world the trappings of Christmas in London. The holiday tales of Louisa May Alcott shaped the ideal of an American Christmas. THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS brought forth some of our earliest Christmas traditions as passed down through folk tales. And THE NUTCRACKER inspired the most famous ballet in history, one seen by millions in the twilight of every year.

Beautifully designed—with foil-stamped jackets, decorative endpapers, and nameplates for personalization—and printed in a small trim size that makes them perfect stocking stuffers, Penguin Christmas Classics embody the spirit of giving that is at the heart of our most time-honored stories about the holiday.

 A Christmas Carol

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  by Charles Dickens
Penguin Classics; ISBN: 9780143122494; Hardcover; $16.00; On-Sale: October 7, 2014

First published on December 19, 1843, A Christmas Carol was an instant classic: Londoners thronged to hear Dickens read it in person and bought out the first printing in days. Its reception was so ecstatic that it is credited with helping to revive interest among the Victorians in Christmas traditions, including caroling and holiday cards, as well as inciting an unexpected wave of charitable giving from Britain’s Industrial Age robber barons. Originally conceived as a pamphlet against exploitative capitalism before taking its current form, it has inspired dozens of theatrical and movie adaptions, and its characters, from Scrooge to Tiny Tim, are forever inscribed in our hearts and minds.

 Christmas at Thompson Hall
CHRISTMAS AT THOMPSON HALL: And Other Stories
 by Anthony Trollope
Penguin Classics; ISBN: 9780143122470; Hardcover; $16.00; On-Sale: October 7, 2014

Christmas at Thompson Hall brings together the best of the Christmas stories of Anthony Trollope, one of the most successful, prolific, and respected English novelists of the nineteenth century. Characterized by insightful, psychologically rich, and sometimes wryly humorous depictions of the middle class and gentry of Victorian England—and inspired occasionally by missives in the “lost letter” box of the provincial post office that Trollope ran—these tales helped to enshrine the traditions of the decorated Christmas tree, the holiday turkey, and the giving of store-bought gifts. Today, they open a window into a time when carolers filled the streets and each house’s door displayed a wreath of evergreen boughs, a time at once distant and yet startlingly familiar.

 A Merry Christmas

A MERRY CHRISTMAS: And Other Christmas Stories
by Louisa May Alcott
Penguin Classics; ISBN: 9780143122463; Hardcover; $16.00; On-Sale: October 7, 2014

A Merry Christmas collects the treasured holiday tales of Louisa May Alcott, from the dearly familiar Yuletide benevolence of Marmee and her “little women” to the timeless “What Love Can Do,” wherein the residents of a boarding house come together to make a lovely Christmas for two poor girls. Wildly popular at the time of their publication—readers deluged Alcott with letters demanding sequels—and drawing on Alcott’s family and experiences in the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements, these stories have the authentic texture and detail of Christmas in nineteenth-century America, while their emphasis on generosity and charity make them timeless embodiments of the Christmas spirit.

The Night Before Christmas 

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
  by Nikolai Gogol
Translator: Anna Summers
Penguin Classics; ISBN: 9780143122487; Hardcover; $16.00; On-Sale: October 7, 2014

Written in 1831 by the father of Russian literature, this uproarious tale tells of the blacksmith Vakula’s battle with the devil, who has stolen the moon and hidden it in his pocket, allowing him to wreak havoc on the village of Dikanka. Both the devil and Vakula are in love with Oksana, the most beautiful girl in Dikanka. Vakula is determined to win her over; the devil, equally determined, unleashes a snowstorm to thwart Vakula’s efforts. Zany and mischievous, and drawing inspiration from the folk tales of Gogol’s far-flung village in Ukraine, The Night Before Christmas is the basis for many movie and opera adaptations, and is still read aloud to children on Christmas Eve in Ukraine and Russia.

 The Nutcracker

THE NUTCRACKER
  by E. T. A. Hoffmann
Translator: Joachim Neugroschel
Penguin Classics; ISBN: 9780143122470; Hardcover; $16.00; On-Sale: October 7, 2014
                                                                        
Written in 1816 by one of the leaders of German Romanticism for his children, nephews, and nieces, The Nutcrackercaptures better than any other story a child’s wonder at Christmas. The gift of a handsomely decorated nutcracker from a mysterious uncle sets the stage for a Christmas Eve like no other for the little girl Marie. That night, Marie’s extraordinary present comes to life, defends her from the taunting Mouse King, and whisks her off to the Kingdom of Dolls. The inspiration for the classic ballet, E. T. A. Hoffmann’s irresistible tale of magic and childhood adventure continues to captivate readers of all ages. Today, many of the most enchanting symbols of Christmas, from nutcrackers to sugar plums to mistletoe, are still imbued with the power of this story.



A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I have never actually read this book cover to cover until I got this edition.  I have to say that this will now be a new yearly Christmas tradition.  This beloved tale it one for the ages.  I adored being taken away in the words of Dickens, an amazing story teller.  Even though I have seen the many movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol nothing compares to reading the words, feeling them course through you. It is like visiting a friend you have known for years but have not seen for ages then spending time getting caught up again.  
5 stars...5 blessed stars. 

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CHRISTMAS AT THOMPSON HALL: And Other Christmas Stories by Anthony Trollope
Wow, the greatest in this book blows my mind.  But that blows my mind even more is that I have never read this before.  This is such a great collection of holiday cheer, with quick and easy to read stories.  It has inspired me to want to carol around the neighborhood and to bring back the truest of traditions.  All the stories highlight the true meaning of the season.  It touched my heart in ways only old classics can...they reach a deeper and more meaningful part of your heart.  I think that this is the perfect gift for book lovers for Christmas.  It has 5 different stories and the cover is adorable for display.
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 A MERRY CHRISTMASAnd Other Christmas Stories
by Louisa May Alcott
 There are stories that make you feel something special and this is one of those stories.  The holiday should be more than just gift and stuff and this nineteenth-century tale helps us remember what they true meaning of the holiday season is...giving and doing for others.  I found this story to be both honest, heartwarming and just plan wonderful.  It causes you to get into the spirit of Christmas and to find ways to pay it forward.  
5 stars


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THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by Nikolai Gogol
 I never knew that this was the real story about The Night Before Christmas.  A story about love and jealousy, snow storms and the devil.  Crazy stuff, right?  But it is so inspired, so beautiful.  I cannot believe I waited so long to read this very short story.  It has really changed the way I look at The Night Before Christmas and further strengthens my belief that to really understand literature we must go back to the roots. 
4 stars

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THE NUTCRACKER by E. T. A. Hoffmann
My son is obsessed with Nutcrackers.  When I asked my son who is 6 years old why he has taken to these Christmas themed items he said it was because I took him to see The Nutcracker and he loved it.  He said they make him happy.  When I received The Nutcracker for review he was so excited.  We snuggled up and read a chapter a night for 2 weeks.  It was the best two weeks we have had.  To watch his eyes in wonder as he pictures the story playing out is such a gift.  After the story ended he asked if we could do that every year before Christmas.  Such an amazing new tradition has started because of this book and for that I will be forever grateful.
5 stars 

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