Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Christmas List: A Novel by Richard Paul Evans

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!

The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans was released this month. As usual, I got his book way too early for Christmas reading, but I read it anyway, as it is due back in 2 weeks.

Before I read the book, I automatically thought that it was an updated version of A Christmas Carol. But actually, it seems to be based more on the Robert Burns poem "To A Louse, On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet At Church" . Which I've quoted above and put it in its entirety below.

Jim Kier has the rare gift of reading his obituary. We are all curious about what would be said about us after we are dead. We all hope nice things; however, Kier learns that he has left a trail of misery in his path. Can he repair the damage he has made?

He attempts just that. He has compiled a short list of the people he hurt the most. As he attempts to make amends, he learns the extent of how much he has destroyed people’s lives…and not all of them are scars that can be seen. During this process, he learns that his original intent was misguided. He has an epiphany that he set out to make amends so he would feel better, but when things don’t go as planned, he re-assesses his motives.

The only part that hinted on A Christmas Carol would be the epilogue, where we got to see how Kier’s life had changed, and how he had changed the lives of others.

I don’t wish to give away too much of the story, it is a must read. I cried throughout most of this book.

Although this isn’t a ‘Feel Good Warm and Fuzzy’ Christmas book, it isn’t as depressing as last years offering “Grace”. This book actually has a message of hope and the power of forgiveness.

Very nice ‘fairy tale’, just like A Christmas Carol, and just like A Christmas Carol, we all are not so naive, that we would think someone so profoundly evil, would change overnight; or at all.

And though this doesn’t revolve around Christmas, the book ends on Christmas Day. It takes place during the Christmas Season, although very little mention of it is made in this book, just little references here and there.

"To A Louse, On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet At Church"
is a 1786 Scots language poem by Robert Burns.

Burns original
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion!

Standard English translation
And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion!

In this poem the narrator notices an upper class lady in church, with a louse that is roving, unnoticed, around in her bonnet. The poet chastises the louse for not realising how important his host is, and then reflects that, to a louse, we are all equal prey, and that we would be disabused of our pretensions if we were to see ourselves through each others' eyes.

1 comment:

thetruebookaddict said...

I have this on order. I'm going to read it for my Christmas Reading Challenge. Have you heard about it?

I also saw that you're doing NaNoWriMo. Did you say that you have won twice? I'm doing it for the first time this year! I must be crazy because I'm already busy, but I want to get this novel written!

I saw what you said about commenting, etc. above so if you want to email me, here's my address: