The week before Christmas is the perfect time to curl up with a holiday story. Whether it be a long drive cross country, a few stolen moments between festivities, or a quiet afternoon by the tree, a Christmas novel is the best way to warm the heart and get you into the spirit of the season. Over the next seven days I will be sharing the books I am indulging in this season, and hopefully you find one that speaks to you too.
“You might forget a story, but you can never unhear a story.”
Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire carves out the origin of the Nutcracker and the life of Drosselmeier, the Bavarian who carves him. Set in Romantic Germany, the story follows Drosselmeier, a foundling child raised by a couple in the Black Forest. With the help of some magic Drosselmeier is set on an unpredictable trajectory that will bring him to presenting the Nutcracker to feeble Klara one Christmas Eve.
Like his retelling of Wicked (a book I read this summer), Hiddensee is an adult fable with simple language and deep themes. The chapters are short and melt together so that the book flows. The story explores the passage of time, how our past forms us, and the importance of family. Fans of The Nutcracker beware: this is no dance of the Sugar Plum fairy. The Nutcracker is the inspiration of the story, but is a minor element.
Warning: not your Hallmark holiday read and recommended for mature readers only. In the book are themes of sexuality, mental illness, and suicide. Like his previous work the book has some dark moments, but by the end Maguire manages to turn it all around and ultimately leave you with a sense of hope. While Christmas time is the best time to read the book because I mean, it’s The Nutcracker, it is one that can be picked up year round.
And now I leave you with my favorite version of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” by Pentatonix. Acapel-yeah.