a good Advent read for curmudgeons

The Birds of the Air The Birds of the Air by Alice Thomas Ellis

This is just the sort of Advent read I like.

Mrs. Marsh, a widow, is hosting her two daughters and assorted neighbors and friends in her home for Christmas. Mary, the older, is still debilitated by grief after the death of her daughter some months earlier. Barbara, the younger, is coping with the the recent discovery of her husband's infidelity. So is her cranky adolescent son, Sam, although Barbara does not know it.

The book is soaked with grief, anger, betrayal and loss. It is also rife with acerbic and sometimes farcical humor, particularly in Mrs. Marsh's home on Christmas day. It's not too sweet on the tongue, but so piquant I couldn't resist savoring it anyway.

What the book ultimately does is invest the reader (the appropriately attentive and engaged reader, anyhow) with all the longing of the Advent season-- the double longing both for the hope of Christmas and that hope's completion in the second Advent of Christ: although set during Advent and Christmas, resurrection is the almost entirely unspoken need for the people in this novel.

It's a rich text, but so readable I'm sure I missed most of what's there to be sussed out. I'm going back for another read shortly.

Highly recommended.

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1 comment:

Julia said...

I really love what I've read by Alice Thomas Ellis (_The Sin Eater_, which I think you would LOVE if you haven't read it yet, and some of her _Home Life_ collected columns) so you really make me want to go get this from the library for Christmastime.