Sunday, December 21, 2014
Book Review: The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden, illustrated by Adrienne Adams (1958)
Though the happy ending is an obvious given from the outset, Godden makes the wait for the resolution worthwhile. Her descriptions of the toys in the toy shop (especially the creepy and cruel owl, Abracadabra), the details of Ivy's experience at the orphanage, where she is the only child not taken into a family home for the holidays, and the conversation the Joneses have about whether to decorate for Christmas all paint vivid pictures of the needs of each character. The reader, therefore, does not root for just one character, but for the Christmas miracle that will fulfill each of their desires. Some books about such Christmas miracles seem insincere or maudlin, but this one resists becoming overly melodramatic, and is instead very matter-of-fact in its telling of unlikely events. The real reason to read this book is not to find out how it ends, but to see how skillfully Godden brings the reader to the only possible conclusion.