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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Classics Reimagined

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

 

December 9, 2023

Some people need to ease into a holiday mood in order to embrace all the trimmings. I just jump right in and immediately enjoy it all. The lights, the music, the overwhelming number of Hallmark movies. I especially enjoy the books.

I first turn toward the classics. "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens remains a world treasure as the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (first published in 1843) survives numerous re-writings and performances, on both stage and big screen, by many actors over the decades. It remains a foundational reminder of savoring memories, connecting to others and taking care of self.

We are offered a new twist to this classic from Samantha Silva in "Mr. Dickens and His Carol." It is the story of how Charles Dickens may have created his characters from real life experience. Suffering some financial blows and the pressure of his publishers while being left behind by his wife in a hotel room, he develops the character of Scrooge as the Christmas season looms heavy over London. Perhaps Dickens himself was visited by the three spirits?

"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" originally written by E.T. A. Hoffman, reworked by Alexandre Dumas, was imagined into music by Tchaikovsky in 1891 and into a ballet in the late 1960s. The Nutcracker is a forever part of holiday celebrations. Whether named Marie, Clara or Claire, a little girl meets a Nutcracker come to life and is taken to a magical world of sweetness. But did you know the Sugar Plum fairy can be very dark and menacing?

A recent novel "The Kingdom of Sweets" by Erika Johnsen brings the Nutcracker to a whole new level. It's a grim reality between twin sisters, Clara and Natasha. One is loved and the other a mere shadow to her sister's loveliness. When the Nutcracker comes, fights the Mouse King and then takes Clara into the magical kingdom of sugar plums and sweets, Natasha follows. What transpires next is intrigue, temptation and bargains that come with a price. Will Natasha choose the darkness for herself and others? Strangely the music by Tchaikovsky slowed in my head to a dirge as I read this tale. But I promise not to spoil the ending!

It seems no one has tweaked Rudolph. In "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" by Robert L. May, you will find Rudoph still bullied by the other reindeer, and in the end, saving the day and Christmas by leading Santa and his sleigh out for deliveries. He still uses the light from his bright shiny nose. Did you know that this story was written by request of the Montgomery Ward company? It was given free to over two million children in 1939. Robert May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks wrote the words to the Rudolph song. And both story and song took off, and has been read and energetically sung for all these years since.

Joy is the true message of the holidays, whether you celebrate a religious or secular Christmas or both, Hanukkah, Yule, or Kwanzaa, or perhaps a mix of all of them. It is a time where we are encouraged to rejoice. For the birth of a baby, Santa and his deliveries, warmth before a crackling yule log fire or being tempted by a delicious yule cake, celebrating community and personal growth with milestones reached. We are many people taking moments to sit back and see the world and our families in focus instead of a blur. We are given an excuse to slow down and embrace our blessings. What can be more classic to imagine than ourselves in the midst of a peppermint hot chocolate with nothing more to do than smile? Leave those to-do lists behind and immerse in a variety of classics, old and new. Be of good cheer. Glad tidings to all!

Good Books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.

 
 

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