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An Almost Perfect Christmas | Nina Stibbe | Review

From perennially dry turkeys to Christmas pudding fires, from the round robin code of conduct to the risks and rewards of re-gifting, An Almost Perfect Christmas is an ode to the joy and insanity of the most wonderful time of the year.

Through a mixture of short stories and personal essays, Nina Stibbe explores all the great Christmas traditions in An Almost Perfect Christmas. There's Stibbe's mum's yearly struggle to produce the perfect Christmas turkey, a short story dealing with the etiquette of buying presents for your teacher, a definitive glossary of Christmas terms, and many other short morsels of festive fun to be found in this little gem of a book.

Full of Stibbe's usual charm and humour, familiar to anyone who has read her bestselling non-fiction book Love, Nina, An Almost Perfect Christmas is the perfect collection for the busy festive season. During this time of year, when people are often so busy that finding the time to read an entire novel can seem almost impossible, this is the ideal book to dip in and out of, the literary equivalent of the best kind of selection box. Each piece in the collection stands on its own, and they can be read in any order, but they also slot together to form a nostalgic and honest look at the trials and triumphs of the classic English Christmas in Stibbe's familiar down-to-Earth style.

There isn't a piece in this collection that I didn't enjoy, but my personal favourites were 'Merry Xmas Everybody', an account of Nina's fight to control the Christmas party playlist against the wishes of her sister and children, 'The Christmas Tree', about how the Stibbe family ended up with a less than perfect Christmas tree, and 'Timothy the Christmas Turkey: A Story', a fictional story about a family who try to choose a more ethical turkey for their Christmas dinner. Whatever your favourite Christmas tradition, there is a story in this collection for everyone, to make you feel nostalgic and Christmassy no matter how you celebrate.

It's not often I find a book that I really would recommend to everyone, but I feel pretty safe in saying that An Almost Perfect Christmas is the perfect gift for any Christmas lover or, for that matter, Christmas haters who might even come around after reading Stibbe's tale of Timothy the Christmas Turkey. The hardback's petite size makes it the ideal stocking stuffer for all your bookish friends, and Stibbe's view of Christmas is one sure to resonate with anyone who has ever experienced a desire like that of Nina's mum's to create the perfect Christmas. 

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