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Book: The Carols of Christmas

I was going to save this review until after Halloween…but since Christmas trees are for sale at Target, I might as well go ahead and review a Christmas book. Besides, it’s also a history book. So it’s all good.

The Carols of Christmas adds to my shelf of “story behind the song” books, but in fairness to Andrew Gant’s hard work I’ll leave the others unnamed. I mention this just to show this isn’t my first trip into music history.

Of course, one fear of digging into the stories behind the songs is that you’ll find your favorite songs are just bad underneath. Fortunately, Gant hasn’t destroyed any favorite songs. It may be that he left out some with checkered stories…but we’ll have to wait for the sequel.

Instead, we have good stories behind 21 fairly well-known songs. Except for Personent Hodie, that is. The rest you’ll know. In this book, I appreciate Gant’s depth of writing and his willingness to acknowledge the differences between facts and legends. I also like that he did not stuff the book with unknown songs—presenting just one lesser-known carol for our enjoyment.

Overall, of course, the presentation is repetitive. Each chapter has a song, a story, and the sheet music for the song. That’s not the way you’d want a novel but this is a collection of stories. It works just fine this way. I honestly couldn’t sit and read the whole thing straight through…unless I was a history nerd. Which I am. Otherwise, though, it’s a bits and pieces book.

For example, in our house this is going to be part of daily leading-to-Christmas celebrating. One chapter a swatch, with singing the song each day. Good stuff.

I think this makes a great book for music lovers and Christmas celebrations both.

I did receive a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for the review.

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