Okay. So you know we’re a fan of Shirley Hughes here at DYESTT Towers. There’s nobody out there who can quite do what she does and we are SO lucky to be able to read it.
(You can probably imagine my face when I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Dogger’s Christmas in the post).
But here’s the thing: I don’t review everything that’s sent to me, because not everything works for me. I do, however, review the stuff that makes me have a tiny cry and remember all that’s good. That’s Shirley Hughes in a nutshell. She writes such hope.
Dogger’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Dogger’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes is:
1. Having the fire on on a cold winter’s day. Snow falling down outside, steadily, softly. A darkening sky. Stillness.
2. Being under the blanket on the sofa, watching a classic movie. Something black and white. Toasty warm from top to toe. Heart, full.
3. Freshly buttered toast. Crumpets, perhaps. Golden, soft. Loveliness.
Every time I read it, I have the tiniest of moments. There’s something in Hughes’ style that gets me – that will always get me. She writes with such soft, gentle richness. Her artwork is full of life and heart (there’s nobody else who can capture ‘light’ quite like her) and every single line sort of sings with this sense of movement. These aren’t isolated snapshots of a distant life; these are moments full of purpose and drive. There’s a before and an after. There’s a story, even in the smallest of details.
A brief word on story. Dogger’s Christmas functions as a sequel to Dogger and I’m always concerned about sequels because they can work to exclude readers who haven’t read that which came before. We’re in safe hands here, however (were they ever anything else?) because Hughes hints towards the prior text whilst never, ever, forgetting her readers which may have come to this first. Such a gift, such the mark of somebody who is very, very good.
This is a year where Christmas may be different for a lot of people. My thoughts are with you if you’ve been impacted by the everything of the past few months and if you’re finding this time difficult. Books like Dogger’s Christmas take on an extra special, beautiful resonance at this point because they stand as this sort of timeless symbol of who we are. We love, we live, we lose things, we find ourselves; we bond over the pages of a beautiful, kind and gentle book. Buy this for your loved ones, buy it for yourself.
Make your buttery toast, find your blanket.
My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.
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