I can’t believe I was having a cup of tea in Waterstones Piccadilly last week en route to another bookish event (The Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year award ceremony) when Emma Thompson and Greg Wise were there signing copies of Last Christmas and I didn’t even realise so I missed them!
I was thrilled to find a copy of Last Christmas in my goody bag when I attended an evening with Quercus back in October. You can read about that evening here. I’ve been saving up Last Christmas to read during the festive season and am delighted to share my review today.
Published by Quercus, Last Christmas is available to purchase in all the usual places through the links here.
The perfect gift book, featuring the writing of Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade, Emily Watson and others, to coincide with the movie Last Christmas, starring Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.
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.
My Review of Last Christmas
Fifty-one Christmas related pieces.
I was initially taken aback by Last Christmas because I was expecting fiction and hadn’t quite anticipated the eclectic and wide ranging factual and memoir pieces that actually make up this collection.
There’s something for every reader in Last Christmas. Reading it over several days, I found myself drawn to more secular than religious linked pieces, but I thoroughly enjoyed, or perhaps appreciated is a better word, the entire book.
Although many of the entries have quite bleak and saddening content, from alcoholism and homelessness to deaths and drugs, ultimately Last Christmas is a heartening book because not only are its profits going to charity, but even where there are some very depressing accounts, more often than not there is hope and positivity that comes out of the writing. A drink dependent and aggressive woman later becoming a volunteer for the charity Crisis, for example, shows just what can be achieved with a bit of humanity.
I laughed aloud at Michael Korzinski’s brother’s physical response to Uncle Hank as I had a similar relative in an aunt who will remain nameless, although my 4 year old reaction was verbal, telling her I hated her, rather than physical. I empathised with Greg Wise’s reaction to his wife’s relentless enjoyment of Christmas as in my family, we begin the ‘What are we doing next year?’ question during Christmas afternoon! I traveled to places like Paris, Mayanmar, Moldova and America and I found a cast of almost Dickensian characters amongst the people described.
What Last Christmas does so brilliantly whilst it entertains, is make the reader think, make them feel humble and thankful for what they have and above all else reminds us that Christmas isn’t about consumerism, but rather it’s about compassion and love for our fellow human beings. It is a perfect glimpse into the reality and hope of Christmas. What could be better than that?