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Review: Christmas 2015, Murakami, Billy Elliot and The Bridge

Highlights of Christmas 2015 have been:

  • Taking the girls to the Sherlock Holmes shop in Baker Street
  • Followed by a walk down Oxford Street and Regent Street under the lights
  • An evening watching Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace. I enjoyed it a lot, although I did think the first half had lots more tension and drama than the second.  The storyline started to run out of steam as everything fell into place.  The skill and stamina of the child actors was pretty marvellous, though.
  • Doing all my Christmas shopping in 20 minutes flat at 9am in Fortnum & Mason on Christmas Eve.

Also memorable moments:

  • Everyone in the family assiduously not mentioning that my dad had clicked 4ft instead of 6ft when ordering his new tree (although I don’t understand why he didn’t send it back and use the other tree that they have had for the last ten years).IMG_2199
  • My mum announcing that she supported Donald Trump’s policies.  I’d always wondered what sort of people voted for him, now I know.
  • Watching episodes 4-10 of The Bridge III in one go, and getting increasingly addicted towards the end, even though it was also getting increasingly creepy watching under the covers in the dark.   I think the actual mystery plot is better than the series 2, more convoluted, but relies so much on coincidence and people knowing each other from the past that they start to jar after a while.
  • Reading my first Murakami.  I wasn’t sure which one to go for, so chose Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World on account of it being described as a fantasy noir/pulp fiction.  I’m about half way through, and am still fighting off a strong feeling that I’d rather be reading a David Mitchell. I might try the Wild Sheep one next, any alternative suggestions gratefully received.





  1. Merry Christmas, Denise! We’ve got more in common than I thought because my mum also supports Donald Trump’s policies 😦 However we have vowed not to discuss politics when they come to visit otherwise we have a huge argument.

    • My mum can often be quite illogical but I was so shocked that she came out with that. I had no idea. She justified her support by arguing that he was a very successful businessman, and also because “he is quite like a comedian”. It’s probably best to have a “no discussion” policy – I guess people just think what they think…

  2. Sounds like a great Christmas! Hard-Boiled Wonderland is one of the few Murakami novels I haven’t read yet – I’ve heard it’s one of his most experimental. You might prefer Kafka on the Shore or Sputnik Sweetheart.

  3. Fortnum & Mason is a wonderful solution to Christmas problems, isn’t it Denise? I tend to do it through their catalogue service, these days, which is so efficient you simply wouldn’t believe it, but they are still my go to answer to what to buy for those really awkward people who seem to have everything.

    • Yes, and for people who are arriving by public transport (ie all of us!) there are lots of beautiful light and small things to choose from.

  4. I pice Murakami but haven’t read that one yet. My favorite is windup bird chronicles but Sputnik Sweetheart is really good place to start too. For less magical realism you could start with Norwegian Wood. I also loved 1q84 but that requires some investment because it’s huge so I wouldn’t start there.

    • I think I should have asked here first! I was a bit “What???” when I finished. Have ordered windup bird now!

      • Great! I hope you like it. Sorry for typos. I was replying from my phone. Windup bird does have a few tough to read scenes. In general his style may be one that will make you end reading with that same question. Windup bird does have a lot of surrealist elements. If you find it to be too much, try Norwegian Wood – one of his least wacky books

  5. What a lovely run up to Christmas you’ve had. I love Billy Elliot. As someone who lived through the miners strike and Thatcher the story is very close to my heart. While the dancing and the children are sublime, they mask a dark period in our country’s recent history.
    Fortnum’s is wonderful. And the lights in the west end are a tradition. Happy holidays…

    • That was my reservation about the musical. There was enormous tension and feeling between the miners and police in the first half, but no satisfactory conclusion was reached in the second. I am not sure how that would have been achieved dramatically, considering that the real implications continue to play out today. Maybe the film did it better? I’d be interested to watch and see.

      Sent from my iPhone


  6. I think Norwegian Wood is the easiest Murakami to get into, I think, because it’s the one with the least magical realism. South of the Border, West of the Sun is one of my favourites but it’s utterly bleak (so you can be thankful that it’s really short), and I just finished his latest, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and hated it – whereas my wife really enjoyed it, and can’t get on with Murakami at all usually.

    Long and short of it, your mileage may vary. But Windup Bird is very good, very good indeed.

    • I don’t mind magical realism, the problem I had with Hardboiled thing was that not much happened in the magical world. There was long trek with leeches and some characters who might have been refugees from number9dream. I kept wanting it to turn into number9dream, which is saying something, as that is my least favourite David Mitchell so far. The end of Hardboiled was good, though. Norwegian Wood is going onto my tbr pile, which I think is going to be a whole shelf full by the end of the Christmas holiday.

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