Friday, December 11, 2020

Book Beginnings: Take a Look at the Five and Ten


Take a Look at the Five and Ten
by Connie Willis

Subterranean Press, November 2020

Opening Lines
Everybody has a traumatic Christmas memory, and mine was always Christmas dinner, partly because in my family (a term used very loosely), it's actually a series of dinners — Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and a New Year's Eve buffet, and if my one-time stepfather Dave had his way, we'd also have St. Lucia's Day and Boxing Day and Twelfth Night dinners, and who knows what else.

About the Book
Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, Ori hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend. 

But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past. (Publisher's description)

Initial Thoughts
Well, my first thought was: That opening paragraph is just one very long sentence! But intriguing. It does make me want to keep reading.

Of course, it also makes me think about traumatic Christmas memories. Yeah, I guess we've all got 'em. Mine have more to do with Christmas travel. After I moved away from Texas and my family, coming home for Christmas usually meant hours of flying or driving in snowy, icy weather. Or, some years, not being able to get home at all. 

But I've got lots of wonderful Christmas memories, too. So I guess it all balances out. 

It's a little unusual for me to read Christmas-themed books during the holidays. Not by plan, just doesn't usually work out that way. Are you reading anything Christmas-y for the season? I'd love recommendations.

Have a good weekend, everyone.
Stay safe. Stay calm. And happy reading!

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.



  1. I like the opening lines and they take me back to some of my own memories.

    I don't usually read Christmas books during the holidays, but this week I read Christmas Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella...and enjoyed it.

    Here's mine: “THE COUSINS”

  2. Love the title and the cover and just for that I won't even classify it as a Christmas read. Don't we all have memories of traumatic Christmas experiences...But the great ones are there too!

    Happy reading and enjoy your weekend.

    Weekend Book Friends

  3. I very seldom read holiday-themed books at all let alone during the time of the holiday. I try to be about a month ahead in my reading meaning books I'm reading now will appear on my blog sometime in January. And who wants to read reviews of Christmas books in January? I'm spotlighting The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley which was a read/listen combo for me. Happy reading!

  4. I like the opening as well; I think we all have a traumatic story here and there.

  5. That is a long opening sentence, but it somehow works! This sounds like a fun read. I don't know that I've had a traumatic Christmas memory, although certainly some unpleasant moments in there here and there.

    I like to read holiday-themed books this time of year. Sometimes I'm more successful than others. This year not so much.


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