Book Review: Last Christmas by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson

When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change?

This is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden.

Away from the John Lewis advert, the high street decorations and the candied orange in Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding, this gem of a book introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas.

What I Thought:

It’s a very strange feeling these days to open a book and not even have an inkling of what you’re getting. Such was my feeling upon opening Last Christmas, a collection of personal essays on Christmas curated by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson.

I had thought that, since the book tied in somewhat to the excellent Christmas film which I watched and liked, it would be more about the film. It does not at all tie in with the film, but it is definitely worth sticking with.

The personal essays in this book tell of Christmasses past and have been written by some famous names, but there are also several pieces which have been submitted by people who have been homeless and have benefitted from the work of Crisis, from refugees who have found a home in this country and I would argue that these are the pieces that resonate most.

All of the pieces though are personal and will strike a chord with many people, whether your experience of Christmas is happy, stressful or that it’s best to be ignored. Not all of these stories are happy, cherished childhood memories – and the book is the better for it.

Whatever your personal experience of Christmas, you’ll find something in this book to identify with and the care with which it has been out together is clear.

Although it’s not the movie companion piece that I expected (which I would still like to read by the way…) I’m pleased I read it – I saved it especially for this time of year!

Last Christmas is published by Quercus.

Dame Emma Thompson DBE and Greg Wise need no introduction, and I don’t really need to link you to their work, but please do consider buying this book, as all proceeds go towards Crisis and The Refugee Council. Their work is important all year round, but especially so at this time of year…

Please note: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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