Aunt Dimity's Christmas

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Christmas always seems a special time to host book club so we've started rotating December's hostess by seniority. Usually we read a Christmas-themed book like A Redbird Christmas or Skipping Christmas but our first December as a book club we read Twilight so it's not a rule. When I hosted a December I chose The Christmas Cookie Club. Even with all the preparations it didn't get me as much in the holiday spirit as Aunt Dimity has. The title is a bit funny because, at least as far as I've read, Aunt Dimity seems to be a minor character. At 75% of the way through, I'd forgotten Aunt Dimity even existed. The main character is Lori and I often feel like she is somehow the title character. She sets off to make the most perfect Christmas. Have you ever heard that saying about God laughing when us humans make plans? If Lori were an actual human I think God might've rolled on the floor laughing so hard at how far from her plans things were going to get.

On a scale of 1 - 5:

Sex: 1

Religion: 4

Gruesome: 1

Suspense: 2

Morality: 4

Sex - there is an allusion of a married couple having make-up sex and maybe one or two passing references to future meetings in the marital bedroom

Religion - the family attends church regularly and volunteers for the Christmas play

Gruesome - there is nothing truly gruesome but there is a character who talks about being grossed out by certain situations

Suspense - there is some mild suspense about whether characters will get places on time or how things will work out

Morality - the main character has true and notable growth in the morality department. She recognizes her shortcomings, comes to terms with them, and makes significant changes to her character.

There were a couple of minor discrepancies - like on page 74 when the instructions were to return by four because rehearsal was at five. Then on page 88 "It was dark by the time I reached the cottage. ... Julian sat ... chatting with Willis." They walk - then it's 4:45. I know it is possible to be dark in some places during the winter by 4 o'clock - it is just unusual. There was another section where they got in a car and then Lori looked down at Kit's hair and I was confused, wondering when they had gotten to the hospital. I had to re-read it three times before I realized the hair was in a picture.

Discussion Questions

What are your favorite childhood Christmas memories?

Describe the perfect Christmas in your mind?

Lori volunteered her husband to be in the Christmas play. Have you ever volunteered someone else for something that they didn't appreciate? How did you resolve it?

How do you think the rabbit got on the windowsill in Chapter 2? Has anything like that happened to you?

"Julian, Anne and Charles discussed plans for Kit Smith's future" (p. 61). Lori found this upsetting because Kit didn't have a voice. Who's right?

When Lady Havoford said Kit killed his father, what was your first thought?

Discuss: "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy. Christopher Dawson (The Judgement of Nations - 1942)" (p. 178)

Discuss: "I [Julian] can't condone suicide, but I also can't help wondering how a decent man could live with himself after leading the raid on Dresden. ... But where could Sir Miles look for help? He was a hero. How can a hero admit to doubt and self-disgust? How can a man who'd done what he'd done believe in the promise of salvation?" (p. 180)

Have you ever seen any examples of "...what a decent man does, after a war. He tries to build a decent world. He doesn't brag or brood. He grabs a sackful of candy and hands it out to his enemy's kids. He helps them believe in Santa Claus again."? (p. 182)

How did Lancaster get repaired? (p. 213)

What one word would you use to sum up the true theme of the book?

Theme Ideas

Serve soup and hot tea like Lori served the twin ladies in Chapter 2.

Serve angel cookies.

Give blue journals to your guests.

Go caroling in a hospital.

Give your guests St. Christopher medals for safe travel (p. 43).

Serve brandy and sandwiches (Ch. 7).

Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Serve Chicken Soup (p. 100).

Serve finger sandwiches, chicken soup, crusty homemade bread, a pot of sweet butter, hot tea and angel cookies like when Julian visited after Miss Kingsley's report (p. 124).

Serve wassail and Christmas pudding. (p. 198)