Patricia Nicol gives her picks for the top Christmas books

  • Patricia Nicol admitted that she was convalescing in bed for most of the week.
  • Meg Mason’s novel Sorrow And Biliss was one of the top-selling novels in 2011.
  • Claire Keegan, Small Things Like These was set in a small Irish community in 1985

Have I? I spent the last week convalescing in bed for most of it. Meanwhile, my husband has had to double up domestically, taking on the laundry, as well as the cooking, ferrying cups of tea, taking messages from people I don’t feel up to talking to and sorting a Christmas tree.

It makes me feel blessed and lucky.

Both of us know it’s not a good idea to let him play and care for the animals while I do it. There might be eye-rolling, a bit more huffing and puffing as I fulfilled another importunate request, an intemperate ‘I’m just coming!’ shouted up the stairs as I wearied of being helpful.

Here are some December stories that show love and gratitude.

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason is one of this year’s most-talked about novels, and Small Things Like These, is one of Patricia’s favourite recent books

Small Things Like These is one of my favorite recent books. The story is set in an Irish small town in 1985 just before Christmas.

Bill Furlong, a coal merchant, is proud to be from humble and even controversial origins. He is often uneasy about the coal he delivers to the convent. He should he take action?

The heart-warming title story, The Tenth Of December, by George Saunders tells the tale of a young boy who is bullied in school. He goes for a walk around his neighborhood and sees an elderly man without a coat. While the man wants to take off his jacket, it is sometimes that goodness stops a person from following their lead.

Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason is one of this year’s most-talked about novels. Its narrator, Martha, always spends Christmas at her Aunt Winsome’s house in Belgravia.

Her future husband Patrick is there when she was a teenager. He is brought home from boarding school by Martha’s cousin, Oliver, after his father forgot to buy a flight to Hong Kong. Patrick, despite being unexpected guests, is thrilled to be given a present. ‘Winsome was someone who took care . . .’ recalls Martha, later.

It is going to be a difficult Christmas. Take care of others: Everyone prefers to be a saint over a martyr.