Friday, December 23, 2011

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

It’s December 23rd. Do your Christmas traditions include family readings, or reading for yourself? Have you pulled out your favorite Christmas books yet? Last year, I bought autographed copies for myself and my two sisters of Connie Willis’ Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. If you only know Willis as a science fiction writer who won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards, the author of To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book, and Blackout/All Clear, among others, you’re missing a treat. Connie Willis is passionate about Christmas, and she shares that love in this collection. Her stories aren’t sickening sweet. They’re perfect for the season.

Of course, I’m a little prejudiced. I agree with her that Hans Christian Andersen wrote depressing Christmas stories. And, I like Miracle on 34th Street much more than It’s a Wonderful Life. Read Willis’ wonderful introduction to this anthology, and you’ll see where her stories come from. She recently said on her website, “I have very strong opinions about what makes a good Christmas story--and what doesn't.  I hate anything involving Lifetime-Channel goopy sentimentality and/or small children freezing to death in the snow.  On the other hand, I don't want to read stories where callousness, cynicism, or downright meanness triumph.  Mr. Potter should not win.”

Willis kicks off the collection with “Miracle,” a fun tribute to Miracle on 34th Street, with some It’s a Wonderful Life thrown in. How can any reader resist “Adaptation,” her tribute to A Christmas Carol? But, my favorite story in the entire book is “Inn,” a story that reexamines the Christmas story, the story of a young couple who got lost “Through some accident of time and space, and ended up at the church.” It’s an ironic story, startling in the details.

Connie Willis shares all her love of Christmas, in her thoughtful introduction, and the gifts she gives readers, her lists. One is a list of “Twelve Terrific Things to Read at Christmas,” and the other is “Twelve to Watch,” a movie list topped by Miracle on 34th Street. But, the true gift comes in the form of these stories. The characters are surprisingly well-developed for the short story format. And, the stories are imaginative, thoughtful and entertaining.

It’s quite possible readers won’t stop by today to see my recommendation of my favorite Christmas book, Connie Willis’ Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. I hope, instead, you’re finding time to slow down and read your own favorite book this holiday season.

Connie Willis’ website is

Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis. Bantam Books, ©1999. ISBN 9780553580488 (paperback), 298p.

FTC Full Disclosure – I own a copy of this book.


Liz said...

One of my favorite books for this season is Rosamunde Pilcher's Winter Solstice.

Merry Christmas.

Lesa said...

Thank you for sharing, Liz. I'm always curious as to what books people pick up this time of year.

Merry Christmas, Liz.

rosemary said...

I always seem to read books in the 'wrong' places or at the wrong times - I remember being absorbed in Maeve Binchy's 'Light a Penny Candle' as we drove through the French Pyrenees.

Lesa, have you read the Amazon reviews of Pemberley? They are pretty dreadful. I can't quite make my mind up about it so far - there are some very long bits of dialogue that I can't imagine anyone actually saying, but maybe in those days they were able to sustain a prolonged monologue without (a) being interrupted or (b) forgetting what they were talking about, both of which are inevitable occurrences in my house.

caite said...

I have not read one Christmas book this year...but I have watched about 5 versions of A Christmas Carol..including the Muppets!

Rosemary said...

Caite, my children and I love the Muppets' Christmas Carol!

Lesa said...

Rosemary, You don't know how much of the country I read, absorbed in a book.

I know the reviews have been so-so. I'm not far enough into the book to have an opinion yet. I enjoyed the opening of Pemberley, but we'll see. I'm very easily pleased if I like the characters.

Lesa said...


I have to agree with Connie Willis that Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol is my favorite. She also likes the Muppets! I saw the play this year, which was terrific. Good Scrooge.

Karen C said...

I have no traditions for reading particular books at this time of the year. My tastes are all over the board so I read what grabs my interest/attention.

Lesa said...


I'm so happy to hear your tastes are all over the board. That's why you're the perfect reader for my blog. I emphasize mysteries, but I pick up all kinds of books.

Liz said...

To Rosemary, I think it is impossible to pick up the "wrong" book at the "wrong" time or place. Those "wrong" books, discussed with friends, help us along the way. That has been my newly discovered joy in blogs (Lesa's in particular), and insight into long ago read but not forgotten books.

So, Happy Holidays to all.

Lesa said...

Happy Holidays, Liz. And, thank you so much for that wonderful comment about "wrong" books.

Valerie B>C> said...

I absolutely agree with you about MIRACLE! I have been buying copies for my friends for years. How did you get autographed books?????

Lesa said...

Valerie, Connie Willis appeared at the Poisoned Pen when I was in Arizona. I couldn't make it that day, but I ordered, and had autographed multiple copies of Miracle so I could share them with my sisters.