Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"[Valentine's Day] centers around the concept of love. This makes it second only to Boxing Day as the holiday least understood by most of the world."

I spent much of yesterday immersed in Penny Vincenzi’s Something Dangerous, the second in her Lytton family trilogy. It’s a huge, sprawling book, but also surprisingly straightforward. I consistently have been impressed with how skillfully she encompasses the events of two or three years at a clip, within a paragraph. For example, one chapter of the first book ends in 1912, with a huge family upheaval, resulting in Celia and Oliver Lytton’s missing their train. The next chapter begins in, say, 1914, and within the next page someone mentions how upset Celia was to have missed their train – to the dock, to board the Titanic. Nothing particularly brilliant, but a clever and well-done passage-of-time device, which all too often can be clumsy and awkward, especially in very large books like this one. There are a lot of characters, and convoluted relationships, but by and large, it’s just a direct and fun novel, perfect for reading while lying on the couch with a cup of tea balanced on my stomach and the children systematically creating chaos and cacophony throughout the house with various Christmas presents.

I paused long enough in my reading to take a long lovely nap in the afternoon, awakening from my deep sleep to find that H had manfully attempted Christmas dinner. Unfortunately he is scared of butter and so the Christmas stuffing was more like Christmas croutons, and the turkey, which he’d cooked at 300, was still, after an hour in the oven, woefully raw and wobbly inside. We dined on steamed green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce; I supplemented the boys’ meal with microwaved chicken nuggets.

I am halfway through Neil Gaiman’s ninth Sandman volume, The Kindly Ones and am finding it tough going. I think most of the problem is that I am distracted by the artwork; the drawing is clumsy and crude, without any of the nuance or striking visuals I have become accustomed to in this series. But I lost my Sandman momentum during the whole stomach-ick week, and can’t seem to just pick it up again.

I received one book for Christmas, that I had picked out myself at the Scholastic book fair, to add to my collection of books featuring librarians: Library Lion. But I fully intend to go have a good rattle round B&N or Half-Price Books later this week. I have to gear up for the Winter Classics Challenge, and track down a few intriguing-looking Aussie authors Lazy Cow discussed in her last post, and keep an eye open for secondhand Sandman volumes.

Now I have to go grocery shopping, because while Christmas was lovely and relaxing, all the bananas and bread got eaten, and all the milk drunk, and we are completely out of dishwasher detergent which could quickly become an emergency situation in this house.

13 comments:

peg said...

I got a little pang (of the "aw, he's not such a bad guy" sort) for H and his dinner-making. The meal sounds less than stellar, but his heart was in the right place. A Christmas Day afternoon nap? That's a gift indeed.

Katy said...

Oh, what a lovely sounding day (even if the dinner meal was um, well, lacking in an entree) and it sounds as though H was not only behaving, but trying to help. Which is amazing.

Amy said...

I'm assuming that the book-lover receiving just one book for Christmas is due to the intimidation factor that no one could possibly know what you've read or have waiting to read?

I think any meal cooked by someone other than myself is a gift unto itself and should be cherished. Even if it is beans and raw bird.

And a book, a nap and the glee of children surrounding you sounds truly divine.

hungry in LA said...

An afternoon nap is a huge gift. Reading? On Christmas? That sounds fabulous. And the turkey...well, he tried. I remember a Thanksgiving when no one thought to defrost the bird. That was a very very late dinner indeed.

This year I massacred Beef Wellington on Christmas Eve, the meat was fine, but the outside looked like I had intended a Cajun style dinner. I consider it practice for next year.

I'm off now, for my date with Howard - thanks again!

Merry Post Christmas.

telfair said...

Glad you had a nice Christmas...hope your grocery shopping did not spoil the good humor generated by the nap.

Best wishes to you & yours this holiday!

Sarah Louise said...

I didn't get even ONE book (and yes, I think it is the what would we get for the LIBRARIAN).

Good job H!

I have been napping instead of snapping as PMS is here...

Glad you got to read and nap...

Happy Christmas, Babs!

Sarah Louise said...

I can't believe I passed that vw--it's a Christmas miracle!

Lazy cow said...

I like the sound of your Christmas day. I only got one book too (bought by self). Tried reading the first Sandman but just too wierd for me!

Suse said...

After Christmas lunch (at about 3pm) I retired to my bed with 'Emma' which I finished, and then fell asleep.

I woke at 6pm.

I then ate a ham sandwich and started on the Josephine Tey book that you somehow so spookily gave me as a virtual present. Loving it. Exquisitely written!

Here's to naps on Christmas day, especially three hour ones. And yay for H. (For once).

Katya said...

I never could get used to the art work in The Kindly Ones -- it distracted me too from the story.

Just finished Marvel 1602 -- I loved it.

I got no books but I did get a bookcase.

Katya said...

And I just saw my Christmas present! Thank you, thank you! It's perfect.

Velma said...

It sounds like it was a nice, quiet Christmas. Than k God it's over, right?

Cathrina said...

A merry christmas to u..so whats the plan for new years???