Yes it’s that time again. Mary couldn’t get a cloth to match the curtains and Reginald’s special chair ruins the symmetry of the display. Now, Harold’s coming, totally unplanned-for, there’ll have to be a rattan chair from the conservatory squeezed onto a corner between – ? – whoever looks thinnest on arrival. PRESENTS!!! Thank goodness for the last minute saviours discussed here
characters sorry, personable individuals whom you know, and what’s more have to suddenly buy for. (Yes, we’re all busy, can’t remember everyone) OR (ouch, didn’t know he’d be there for lunch so didn’t buy him anything. He’s bound to embarrass me by bringing something lovely) It all adds up to: “Must get something for Betty or Betram, but what???”
Let me help. Books can come in different sizes, shapes and surprises.
Ignore that set of highly reviewed and popularised paperbacks on the front tables of your local large bookstore. Other people will have had the same thought – “Ah, the latest X or Y” (I daren’t specify or my life won’t be worth living). Be original. You can’t? You have gone blank with Christmasistis? Here are some books that will please more than one of the following people. If so, their pleasure may warm your attitude towards them. Christmas is the time of Goodwill to All Men. I’m sure this was meant to include women. The books do.
Working out which book for which person is a small problem; all the rest is done for you.
Cyril: Once he represented HM as consul in a distant island. Life was slow, uncultured and extremely comfortable. Now returned, he is at a loose end, swings between part-time and futile consultancies and no longer feels sufficiently important. He needs a book that will give him instant gravitas.
Avril: Sharper than we would like her to be, she appears to have read EVERYTHING, mostly with a cynical eye. She needs to be charmed, to be softened up, to learn that books exist outside her realm.
Dominic: He is a dandy, valuing appearance far too much. Apart from a mirror, he needs to think big, and particularly to think. Go carefully, too taxing a book will prevent him from opening the cover.
StJohn: Actually he is a late middle-aged reviewer on DareISayIt newspaper. He thinks he has his eye on everything literary. Most people buy him rare brandy or titbits from Fortnum and Mason’s. Surprise him and he will admire you for ever. But it better be good.
Tom: He gains enormous pleasure from reading books that have faults. It will fill the room with his tenor bleats if you can find a badly edited book with an erudite author. Unfortunately, I dare not nominate one or every word I write in the future will have spit on it. The other alternative is a book that deliberately compiles mistakes but this is a poor substitute.
Adrienne: She reads romances hidden between the pages of Margaret Atwell novels and now she has run out of this fodder. I have just the book for her. An unequal relationship, breached ethics. Let her brood on the outcomes of forbidden lust. OR accept the unlocking of certain females.
Siobhan: She’s everyone’s cousin, newly arrived from time overseas and totally, but totally out of touch, darlings. Give her a break. Let her eat cake. There’s plenty in one book here.
Mary: Always the hostess, never the guest. Give her something so gripping she won’t bother ever making a hot toddy for anyone again, let alone a cooked meal, particularly gourmet.
Derek: Was he invited???? I can’t bear him. Can you? No, no-one can, the pontificating has-been. Anywhere, here he is bearing orchids reduced price from B and Q masquerading as high class florist’s choice for “lovely ladies”. Uck. Give him something that will make him see women differently. OR a huge book that will cause him to retire to the study almost permanently.
It was a ‘no-kids’ invite, thank goodness. Kids books might emerge on another post. But only if amazingly different.
Have fun with the party games, everyone. Here is one of them is ‘fit the book to the beast.’
PREZZIE CHOICE: SEE DESCRIPTIONS IN THE FOLLOWING POST. Author names include: Kerr, Schott, Merceron, Minett, Deng, Hollis, but there are more . . .