I first read this about 18 months ago, after finding said copy of book in the lovely second hand bookshop I was volunteering in at the time. I was going through a brief short story period (rather similar to the one I am going through now) and decided to pick a few at random. This one stuck in my memory.
I think it's the Englishness of it all - we follow young Lucy from the age of eleven in 1950, right through to her as a young woman, as she experiences first hand the family tradition of professional re-gifting - how her beloved bottle of perfume, along with several other gawdy, tacky items, make their way through the hands of several family members and friends over the years. I'm always drawn to a hideous matriarch in a story and this one is no different - the small references to Lucy's mother, her domineering ways and her own perception of the meaning of Christmas (never loose face, manners are everything, must give present, no matter how bloody awful it is) - is just so well written.
|TACKY GIFTS -|
THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Just a quick note on the character of Lucy - it's refreshing to read a character like this in short story form - I guess there's not a huge amount of room for character development here - we start off with a good person and end up with a good person who has just a little more understanding of other people than she did at the start - no major lessons learnt or anguish or tearing out of hair. I love her simplicity and uncomplicatedness (yes, I just invented a new word).
So if you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think...