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It's December 23, and Clara Dunphy is running around Oxford Street like a chicken with its head cut off trying to pick up "a few last- minute bits and bobs." Despite the frenzy, the twice-divorced mother of three loves Christmas and always wants to make it perfect. A challenge even in the best of times, but particularly when "family" means an extended network of ...
It's December 23, and Clara Dunphy is running around Oxford Street like a chicken with its head cut off trying to pick up "a few last- minute bits and bobs." Despite the frenzy, the twice-divorced mother of three loves Christmas and always wants to make it perfect. A challenge even in the best of times, but particularly when "family" means an extended network of in-laws, out-laws, ex-stepfathers, and hangers-on, totaling sixteen. Is the madness of Christmas really worth it? Clara is a witty, blackly funny everywoman who will win over anyone who has ever longed to shut out the holidays with "a giant martini . . . and some olives."
Knight's favorite heroine (My Life on a Plate, 2001) returns, now remarried and juggling a hectic mixed family and a potential new love over the course of three consecutive holiday seasons.
It's two days before Christmas, and Clara Dunphy takes a break for a champagne cocktail during a last-minute shopping trip.Unexpectedly, she meets a handsome stranger who asks her to stay for a drink.Clara is still married, to a choreographer named Sam, and has a daughter with him and two teenaged sons with her first husband, Robert.But things with Sam have been rocky lately, and Clara can't quite imagine them growing old together.Nonetheless, she returns home to a hectic dinner involving both Sam and Robert, the children, a critical mother, a dottering mother-in-law and several friends in complicated states of single-hood and couple-hood.The brood has a lot to drink and things get awkward, though nothing much actually happens, somewhat emblematic of the novel as a whole.Fast-forward a year.Sam and Clara's marriage has indeed dissolved, and she has rekindled her relationship with the stranger from the previous Christmas, though everyone except said stranger is gathered again for another dinner at her house.Clara finally seems rightly concerned about the effect of all this on her children, which harkens back to issues from her own childhood (though she did have a consistent father figure, her mother is now on her fourth husband, which clearly haunts her).On the third Christmas featured, Clara takes the show on the road, embarking on a family holiday to Morocco. And what of the stranger? Stay tuned. Clara loves Christmas, and it's easy to see why—as long as she can keep all the disjointed people in her life together, they will remain, in the best possible ways, a family.
Plotless, though clearly warm-hearted holiday fun.
Posted December 14, 2011
Comfort and Joy follows Clara Dunphy backwards and forwards through her life to all the significant Christmases she encounters. She is a British everywoman - mother, wife, and daughter who is forever determined to make every Christmas the perfect day for her large brood of friends, family, and ex-husbands. Yearly she drives herself to the brink of madness searching for the perfect presents, cooking the requisite giant meal, and trying to maintain harmony among her troops.
I'm sure that many people will recognize bits and pieces of themselves and their own holiday mania in Comfort and Joy. Still, Clara's circumstances were just a little more extreme, out of control, and weird than the average Christmas. Year after year she seemed to land in full family drama. After the first few years it felt like maybe Clara was one of those people who creates drama where ever they go. I started to feel less and less sorry for her and by the end couldn't much relate to her. Some parts were funny and I found a few of the characters, her mother especially, endearing. I guess I just prefer the traditional, cheesy Christmas stories.
I listened to Comfort and Joy on audio read by Anne Flosnik. She has a thick, British accent that goes well with the story and suits Clara's character.
Posted December 29, 2011
No text was provided for this review.
Posted April 30, 2014
No text was provided for this review.