Friday, 4 December 2009

John Ward: Books - the greatest gift of all.

John Ward's novel The Comet's Child is December's Book of the Month. We asked him what it feel like to be published at Christmas and what he'll be reading over the holidays.

To have a book come out in time for Christmas is a special pleasure. Suddenly you are part of that most memorable library: books that were first received as Christmas presents.
Books: as presents go, they are rarely the most exciting, but so often give the greatest, most abiding pleasure, remembered and reread when flashier things are lost and forgotten. Their moment comes when the toys are played out and the excitement (up since the earliest hours, scarcely slept the night before) has subsided into fatigue: then it is time to curl up in a quiet corner among the cushions and discarded wrapping paper and the smell of tangerines and chocolate and read your book.

What must it have been like to be a child at Christmas 1935 (a time much like our own, with the world in a parlous state: financial ruin, unemployment, war and the threat of war) and receive a copy of John Masefield’s The Box of Delights, complete with curious illustrations and a riddling rhyme at the head of each chapter? To be drawn into the world of Kay Harker, home for the Christmas holidays, diddled out of his money by sly strangers on the train, befriended by the old Punch- and-Judy man and his dog Barney, plunged into a world of adventure with flying taxis, magic, time-travel, international gangsters, interminable snowdrifts and at the heart of it all, the wonderful Box of Delights?

I'll be reading it again this Christmas.

Take part in our Book of the Month competition and you could win a copy of The Comet's Child.

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