By India Knight
I checked this book out from the library after Kinsey discussed it in her post about recommended holiday readings, and it was a very good holiday book indeed.
Here’s the thing about Comfort & Joy: the narrator, Clara, feels just like a very good friend. I wish I could just sit down and chat with her, hearing her opinions about life and sharing my opinions and just comparing our viewpoints. Just like with any friend, most of the time I think she’s very smart and interesting, and sometimes I think she’s being silly and melodramatic, and sometimes I imagine that she would think that I was being the same.
The book is broken up into three years’ worth of Christmases (or Christmi, to use an inside joke from the book). Five pages in, I had my first laugh-out-loud moment; seven pages in, I felt Knight had already perfectly captured an aspect of Christmas with this quote:
“That’s the thing about presents, isn’t it? Especially Christmas ones. The judiciously chosen present, the perfect gift, is offered up in the spirit of atonement and regeneration. It says, ‘Look, I know I don’t call as often as I should, and I know you think I’m grumpy and short-tempered’—insert your own personal failings here; I’m merely précising mine—‘but the thing is, I know you so well and I love you so much that I have bought you the perfect thing. And so now everything’s okay, at least for today.’ Which is all very lovely but a great deal easier said than done, and which is why I can feel the hair at the back of my neck curling with heat and stress.”
Honestly, it actually felt a little odd reading it at my own family Christmas. It is so realistic and engrossing (with some similarities but mostly very different from my own life) that I felt like I was almost experiencing two realities layered on top of each other.
I”m so glad you liked it! I agree that it feels like Clara is a friend you’d want to sit down and chat with. I don’t know if you are on Twiiter, but India Knight’s Twitter feed feels just the same way.
Also, the last time I was in London I went to the bar she goes to at the beginning of the book and it was SO NICE. If I go to heaven when I die, I want it to be just like that bar so I can spend eternity drinking their fancy drinks and eating their cashews and olives.
Oh, I am so jealous that you went to The Connaught! I need to go to London sometime, so I can have their fancy drinks, and nuts and olives, too. I don’t currently follow any twitter feeds, but I may have to go ahead and plug myself into twitter in order to follow India Knight.
So, I just looked it up online (http://www.the-connaught.co.uk/connaught_bar.aspx) and it is even more beautiful than I’d imagined! I have to admit that I’d imagined something kind of dark, with lots of wood paneling – kind of old-school gentlemen’s club style. I also downloaded their bar tapas menu because I LOVE reading menus, and oh, man, that is some good stuff!
Sold! I just reserved both this one and My Life on a Plate at the library…
I hadn’t realized that there was a prequel! I’ll have to check out My Life on a Plate at my library, too.
Oh my gosh, I read My Life on a Plate about a million years ago and it kicked off my love for India Knight, but I did not realize until just this moment that Comfort and Joy was a sequel! I maybe need to work on my retention of information.
They’ve happily come up together for me at the library, so I’m going to read them in order!