Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Review: A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

With the same incomparable style and warm, inviting voice that have made her beloved by millions of readers far and wide, New York Times bestselling author Fannie Flagg has written an enchanting Christmas story of faith and hope for all ages that is sure to become a classic. 
Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget 
A Redbird Christmas.

My Mum got this book for Christmas and loved it, so passed it on to me to see what I thought.
Unfortunately I didn’t quite have the same reaction to it.

I did really enjoy it, it’s a charming tale of various members of Lost River, from Oswald’s arrival onwards. There were lots of little moments that I really enjoyed, finding out about the community, and the various big happenings that shake them all up.

Of all the character’s I really loved Oswald – he had a humour and determination about him that really capture me.
It was just once he got to Lost River that I lost interest.

We meet various members of the community, and hear snippets of their lives. Unfortunately most of the character’s remained very flat for me, with their actions and dialogue coming across as very stilted and disjointed. Moments that were supposed to be big reveals I had seen coming from the start, and because I didn’t really warm to a lot of the character’s meant that I wasn’t as drawn into caring for them as I was meant to be.

The writing used a very odd style that jumped around from character to character – great to find out what was happening to others in the village, but not so great when you can’t tell who is speaking or thinking and then it changes randomly part way through a paragraph. There were also odd spelling mistakes that just gave the whole thing a slightly tatty air.

Events were loosely joined together through the changing seasons and year, but because none of the characters were fully fleshed out I never really got drawn into it. And the ending wrapped up a little too neatly and too randomly for my taste which always leaves me a little bit disgruntled afterwards.

That said I did enjoy parts of it, it just didn’t quite grab me in the way I was expecting it to. It had charming moments, some lovely bits of humour and a great array of small moments that lifted it for me. However I did enjoy some of Flagg’s other books, particularly ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ so I think it was either a blip or I was in the wrong mood to read it.

A light Christmas read, one that briefly catches at you but doesn’t ultimately linger.

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