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A Christmas Memory front ocver of Capote's A Christmas Memory

by Truman Capote
Perfection Learning, USA, 2000
(original 1956)

Age group

5-9 year olds, and above really

Format

36 page book

Whilst I have not read Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this Christmas book by the same author intrigued me so I got a copy and read it.

The story

Two cousins live together amongst unwelcoming relatives but make beautiful Christmas memories together.

My review

The story is surprisingly short (I ordered it online and was surprised at the thinness of it when it arrived!) but it is beautifully written and heart warming.

Written in the first person by a seven year old boy known as Buddy, it tells the tale of a simple life for Buddy and his sixty-something cousin. We do not get her name, nor Buddy’s real name in the story, nor do we get any background as to why they are living in this large house with other nameless relatives.

Their Christmas traditions are central to their lives – they work at making money all year to be able to buy fruitcake ingredients for some people they fancy (including Mrs Roosevelt!) – and they spend many hours preparing the fruitcakes, making gifts and decorations,  and gathering a Christmas tree.

The book is full of love and warmth, even if their lives aren’t. There is the generosity of the scary Mr Haha, the friend’s longing to give Buddy something special, Buddy’s comfort when his friend gets in trouble, and their appreciation of spending time together. The story is not all happy, but it is peaceful and I finished it feeling good despite the sadness.

Very young children will not follow the story, and there are no pictures, but there is nothing inappropriate so the book can be read to all ages without concern.

The version of the book I read includes some exercises afterwards. Focussing on vocabulary and themes within the story, these are interesting to review or could start some family discussions. Or use it as a Christmas themed homework activity for older children!

Although originally published in 1956 in a magazine and then within Breakfast at Tiffany’s, this story has not dated or gone out of style. It is autobiographical so Buddy’s name is therefore Truman!) and his cousin is Miss Sook Falk.

Would I recommend A Christmas memory? Yes, this is a lovely story from Capote. And it is a quick read for those not wanting a long book.