Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Christmas Read

It's remarkable how much my reading is affected by my mood, the weather, or even where I am at the time. Now that the nights have well and truly drawn in and Christmas is just around the corner I'm tempted to temporarily cast aside my current reading and reach again for John Masefield's marvellous Box of Delights, a book that never fails to enchant and evoke a childhood Christmas that I never actually experienced (it was published in 1935, which is about the year I live in in my head).

I first read The Box of Delights after watching the BBC's excellent adaptation in the mid-80s when I was still at school.  The haunting opening music (taken from Victor Hely-Hutchinson's marvellous Carol Symphony), snowy Chester hills and a tale of magic and adventure caught my imagination straight away. I wanted to be Kay Harker and help old Cole Hawlings to thwart the machinations of the devious Abner Brown and Dame Sylvia Pouncer. I got the paperback for Christmas that year and I read it many times over the following years.

When I was in my early 20s and knew no better I decided to get rid of 'childish' things and gave away the book along with all the old Enid Blyton hardbacks I had! Now that I've properly grown up I'm pleased to say I have a lovely old hardback copy of the book (and its prequel 'The Midnight Folk') as well as the DVD and would recommend it to anyone, no matter what age. Settle down in a comfy chair with just a lamp to read by and prepare to be drawn in to its magical delights.

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