Monday, 14 December 2015

The Perfect Christmas ( fictional obviously )

I like to read and listen again and again to my favourite Christmas Day scene and it comes Anthony Trollope's beautiful novel, Can You Forgive Her. I know it's a crap title, there's hope for all our titles.
It's set in Cumbria which is one of my favourite places, being as wild and untamed in parts as my beloved Weardale when Alice and Kate, who are cousins, go to stay at Vavasor Hall where their grandfather is the local squire.
This is mid nineteenth century and as unlike our Christmases now ( I blame Charles Dickens in part and Marks and Spencer for the rest ) as it could possibly be.
Alice receives a letter on Christmas morning - can you imagine that happening now, and this in the middle of nowhere  - which is from her cousin George in London, Kate's brother.
They have breakfast with their lovely grumpy old grandfather and then they go to Church.  The Hall is not far from Penrith and within an energetic person's walking distance from Shap. After church, with a big piece of fruitcake each to take with them, they set off on a long walk, promising their grandfather they will be home in time for dinner which is promptly at five o'clock.
Off they set in one of the loveliest places on earth and the day is fine and they are very close. And Trollope knows his Cumbria so well. He describes the lovely walk and their conversation and eventually Alice tells Kate that she has received a proposal of marriage from George.
They get back and their grandfather scolds them because the beef is almost on the table and they rush upstairs to dress for dinner. After that I imagine them sitting over a huge fire because that's the end of the scene.  In order to find out whether Alice marries George you should read the book or if you're idle like me download the audio which is read by Timothy West and is superb.  Trollope's women characters are the best in fiction.  His young men tend to be either dull or complete bounders. George isn't dull.  George, in Trollope's language, is a scoundrel.

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