I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Cassandra Mortmain is an engaging narrator, writing a journal about her life in a dilapidated castle in the English countryside. In the English way, her prospects are few since their only rich relative has disowned them. That leaves a rich marriage for her or her sister, Rose. It seemed like a fairly conventional set up, but from there on out, this book surprised me constantly. Every time I thought I knew what was coming, I was wrong. Highly recommended.
Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma
Ostensibly about keeping the house clean, this book is really about the value of work and how we have robbed our children of its benefits. It resonated with me in so many ways.
A Tan and Sandy Silence and The Scarlet Ruse by John D. MacDonald
These two McGee books were my least favorites, probably because I’m tired of the formula. He writes well and makes stunning observations about human nature, but the women in each of these books were too flawed, too doomed from the start. I won’t be giving up on MacDonald, but I don’t recommend these two books.
Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkein
These letters from Father Christmas to Tolkein’s children are like Christmas cookies: short, sweet and purely delightful. I loved everything about it, from Tolkein’s magical descriptions to his disguised handwriting. This one is fun for both the parents and the kids, though perhaps for different reasons.
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
I love Willis’s novels, but she is a master of the short story. These stories range from charming to disturbing, but they are all memorable and all worth reading. My favorite, of course, is Adaptation. Pick up a copy and stick it in your stocking for next year!