Sunday, January 25, 2009

To Every Thing There Is a Season by Alistair MacLeod

A beautiful little book that I could relate to so well. This is a Christmas memory of the author, Alistair MacLeod, at the age of eleven on the threshold of leaving childhood behind. The story takes place on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in 1940, on a small family farm. Snow season begins as early as October in Cape Breton. In the author's words, "My family had been there for a long, long time and so it seemed had I. And much of that time seems like the proverbial yesterday. Yet when I speak on this Christmas 1977, I am not sure how much I speak with the voice of that time or how much in the voice of what I have since become....For Christmas is a time of both past and present and often the two are imperfectly blended."

To every thing there is a season, and to every page there is a gorgeous illustration. Illustrated by Peter Rankin, the time and place are beautifully captured. This is a warm, comforting "olden days" portrait of Christmas; although it is written for 1940, it conjures Christmases of an earlier time as well. An excellent short story to read for Christmas, it is only 47 pages long including history, author note and illustrations. It would make a nice traditional family Christmas story to read every year.

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