Christmas At Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
I settled down to return to Cold Comfort Farm for a Christmas visit, fully expecting to get reacquainted with some old friends and enjoy a few days of their deliciously odd behaviour, when what to my wondering eyes should appear...but a collection of short stories, only one of which is set on the farm and only two of which have any connection to Christmas at all. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning unwrapping a present and finding clothes inside.
I read the first two stories and loved them, and though there were disappointingly few Christmas settings, the stories were all entertaining and well written. If you're familiar with her short stories, some of the titles included here are: To Love and To Cherish, The Murder Mark, Sisters, The Walled Garden, Golden Vanity, More Than Kind, Cake, and Mr. Amberly's Brother.
I don't usually like short stories much. I find it hard to get to know characters in so few pages and the story always ends before I'm ready to let it go. I don't know quite how she does it in so little space, but Stella Gibbons made me feel like I knew these characters personally and understood their lives. Her stories tell you enough, but not too much, and they end at just the right point. If there are other short stories, and short story writers, this good out there, I think I might become a fan.
I know for sure I'm a Gibbons fan; I want to find and read everything she wrote. The list is not nearly long enough and I'll hoard them for awhile to make them last, but I don't want to miss one word. Her writing suits me perfectly and her books are some of the most enjoyable reading I've ever encountered.