Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: Letters from Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien

This book isn't quite a book. It was never meant to be. It is just the letters Tolkien wrote to his kids as Father Christmas over a span of a couple of decades. They are sweet and funny, although my little ones didn't keep interest. (Kids these days.) They do combine history and literature to keep the interest of my older ones, one of whom pointed out a connection to Lewis and Narnia that I totally missed. For me as the reading father, it's fascinating how Tolkien's academic work was integrated into the letters -- for example, he has different characters annotate the letters like they are one of his Beowulf manuscripts, but for comic effect, resulting in the best jokes. So, not the best read-aloud book, but an intriguing window that humanizes the sometimes-prickly, sometimes-idolized Tolkien, a sweet Christmas delicacy and a good reminder of tempus fugit for this professor and father of four.

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