Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson @Wintersonworld @JonathanCape

Everybody loves a Christmas story. The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a tradition of celebration, sharing and giving. And what better way to do that than with a story?

Read these stories by the fire, in the snow, travelling home for the holidays. Give them to friends, wrap them up for someone you love, read them aloud, read them alone, read them together. Enjoy the season of peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic.

There are ghosts here and jovial spirits. Chances at love and tricks with time.

There is frost and icicles, mistletoe and sledges. There’s a cat and a dog and a solid silver frog. There’s a Christmas cracker with a surprising gift inside.

There’s a haunted house and a SnowMama. There are Yuletides and holly wreaths. Three Kings. And a merry little Christmas time.

And for the icing on the Christmas cake, there are twelve festive recipes from Yuletides past and present. Red cabbage, gravlax, turkey biryani, sherry trifle, Mrs Winterson’s mince pies and more.

I must confess to not being the biggest fan of short stories but when I saw this book I knew I had to have it.  A mixture of 12 Christmas stories, 12 festive recipes with the tales that are associated with them, and Jeanette Winterson’s own particular brand of dry wit made this an absolutely wonderful read.

The stories have a whimsical, magical and spiritual feel to them.  My particular favourites were The SnowMama, Dark Christmas and The Second-Best Bed. The last two were ghost stories and sometimes I find suspending belief difficult but in the case of these two I found them absolutely compelling.

Of the tales of food I loved reading about Ruth Rendell’s red cabbage and Mrs Winterson’s mince pies.  There was also a wonderful piece about the bookshop in Paris, Shakespeare & Co.  The whole thing was wound up with a piece from the author herself about the last Christmas she spent with her mother and whilst it made me laugh I also felt quite sad, although Winterson has obviously come to terms with her difficult childhood.  She’s a truly fascinating person in my opinion, and a very talented writer.

This is a charming and brilliant book and is beautifully presented as a clothbound hardback.  It truly was a delight to read and I can see it being a book that comes out again at future Christmases.

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days was published on 10th November 2016 by Jonathan Cape.