Friday, November 9, 2007

Book Review

Photograph is one of more than 60 images and sketches included in Christmas Past in Essex.
Photo courtesy: Sylvia Kent. The Motley Crew: Tony Motley (left) Jim Shrubb (center) Town Crier, and David Smith (right) as Father Christmas.

Book Review by Frances Clamp

Why is Elizabeth Wallace, one of our overseas members living in Denver, Colorado, writing a book about Essex? Well Elizabeth was born and grew in the county and still holds it in great affection.

Christmas Past in Essex is a real gem of a book containing all sorts of well illustrated information about Christmas customs from bygone years. It really stirs up memories of the excitement felt by children as 25th December approached.

Elizabeth records the memories of many who worked in hospitals, entertained with singing, musical instruments and even an actor who took part in one of the many pantomimes enjoyed during the festive season. There is the account of a doctor and his family, all of whom helped to make the patients’ lives better at this time, A Christmas Wedding from 1930 and there is even an interview with Father Christmas himself!

Traditional Christmas recipes are also included and there is even one for own Sylvia Kent’s prize winning mead. And whilst mentioning food and drink, I wonder how many of us still recall the joys of preparing the pudding on Stir-up Sunday or enjoying a slice of Twelfth Night Cake.

This is a small book jammed packed with information and memories. You don’t need to come from Essex to enjoy the many Christmas customs recorded in these pages. It would be a perfect stocking filler for anyone who loves this very special season and all the ancient customs that have become so much a part of the celebrations.

Christmas Past in Essex by Elizabeth Wallace, Published By Tempus Publishing Ltd at £9.99 ISBN: 970-7524-4463

Frances Clamp, Society of Women Writers and Journalists.