- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday Books; First Printing First Edition edition (Nov. 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385505833
- ISBN-13: 978-0385505833
- Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 542 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,449,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Skipping Christmas Hardcover – 1 Nov 2001
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Nora and Luther Krank bid good bye to their daughter Blair, who is off for a year to join the Peace Corps in South America. Her departure means there is just the two of them to face the build-up to Christmas. And Christmas on Hemlock is a big deal, the houses surpass anything you might imagine, all twinkling decorations are carefully placed and are crowned by a Frosty the Snowman atop each dwelling. A street in unison when it comes to festive flair.
Well, the Kranks are doing it differently this year. They rashly decide to embark on a Caribbean cruise. And rather than focus on the festive preparations, they imagine lazy days aboard the Island Princess, along with 2998 other passengers, enjoying any one of the four pools, gargantuan food intake and sunny climes. Luther even buys a yellow-shorts-and-shirt-suit, with an aqua and teal print of marine life (the image, described in detail, is now unfortunately burned into my visual memory). Not for them the manic dashing around in the run up to the festive season, the frenzied foray across town to buy yet something more to make it the perfect Christmas. The author certainly highlights the bizarre, compulsive behaviour that descends on normally level-headed folk. His ribald observations are spot on.
Their neighbours, however respond archly. This is simply not done. Christmas has its routines! Money must be spent, effort invested, conviviality arranged and endured. And as the pathos builds, the more the Kranks resort to hiding behind their curtains, the more the carol singers attempt to serenade, the firefighters arrive with charity buckets in hand and the tree seller on persuasive festive form (he has trees to sell, after all!).
Having fought off the serried ranks of neighbours, who are aghast at their behaviour, the Kranks receive a phone call from daughter Blair, who announces her return for Christmas, with fiancé in tow (yes, it’s only be a month but it is true lurv). She is returning to introduce him to the family’s routine of festivities, parties, presents and community. Only nothing is planned, it’s Christmas Eve… Nora capitulates, everything has to happen as usual. Panic. But, without giving much away it all comes good, in a truly wry and traditional tale of Christmas. Enjoy!
The plot focusses on the calamities that befall Luther and Nora Krank when they decide to forgo Christmas one year and go on a cruise instead. As is obvious from the text adorning the cover, it's been made into a film, and reading it certainly gave the impression that it would perhaps be better off in that medium.
The characters are bland and forgettable, and a large number of the supporting cast seem unrealistic (though this is not an uncommon feeling I have toward John Grisham's novels so it may be the culture difference). There's no real depth though to even the main characters, and much of the narration focusses on events rather than developing the characters or exploring their lives - they weren't really likable and are quite honestly forgettable.
The presentation of this edition even irritated me - the line spacing is wide and the chapters begin with fancy curly letters, which combine to give the impression that the book has been stretched out to make it appear bigger than it is.
Overall it was a tedious descent into a mostly depressing conclusion and I'll admit to being glad it's over. John Grisham's previous experiments into other genres have been fine, but this time I think he's gone a bit too far, and I look forward to getting back to his legal thrillers. My advice - skip this book.
My copy came in a different coloured paper jacket from the one advertised, with a pale blue surround but was in very reasonable condition.
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