Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: The Autobiography of Santa Claus

Summary: It all started when Jeff Guinn was assigned to write a piece full of little-known facts about Christmas for his paper, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A few months later, he received a call from a gentleman who told him that he showed the story to an important friend who didn’t think much of it. And who might that be? asked Jeff. The next thing he knew, he was whisked off to the North Pole to meet with this “very important friend,” and the rest is, well, as they say, history.

An enchanting holiday treasure,
The Autobiography of Santa Claus combines solid historical fact with legend to deliver the definitive story of Santa Claus. And who better to lead us through seventeen centuries of Christmas magic than good ol’ Saint Nick himself? Families will delight in each chapter of this new Christmas classic—one per each cold December night leading up to Christmas! -- Tarcher

It's that busy time of year when reading takes a backseat to life, but I did manage to read a book last week called THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SANTA CLAUS as told to Jeff Guinn. My feet were kind of held to the fire since it was our December book club pick, and I swore to myself that I would get it read in time for our meeting. I'm happy to say that I completed the book... because it was our book club pick. However, if you read my meeting summary, then you already know that I didn't exactly love this book; and I'm not sure that I would have finished it had it not been for our book group.

Having said all that, I think I liked THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SANTA CLAUS more than any one of my friends. There were more than a few who hated it! I am a sucker for holiday books so maybe that contributed to my opinion, but I think I was able to look for the positive since I knew I had to write this review. Although I do think I appreciated the premise of this book, and for that, I can give the author a few props. The description of this book definitely appealed to me and the reviews on Amazon were, for the most part, pretty positive. I think where I had issues was in the execution of the story.

My one friend summed this book up fairly well when she called it Santa Claus meets Forrest Gump. Basically, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SANTA CLAUS follows Santa throughout history from his early childhood up to more modern times. It also presents the origin of the Santa tradition in a wide variety of European counties. Initially, I thought it was interesting to learn the history of Santa Claus and I enjoyed Santa's voice; however, the book started to lose my interest when Santa encountered the famous figures and major events from history (i.e. the Forrest Gump parts.)

Unfortunately, I struggled to get through this book. It was just very repetitive for me -- from the running joke about Santa's weight to the odd assortment of historical characters that he met. It just seemed to me like the author was trying too hard to introduce characters (like St. Francis of Assisi and Attila the Hun) so he could tell their stories too. I admit that when Attila the Hun started working on Santa's team, I felt like the story jumped the shark!

Overall, I'd say that I was disappointed by THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SANTA CLAUS. While it did have a unique premise, I felt that the execution didn't live up to its potential. I do give the author credit for doing a huge amount of research on both Santa and other famous historical characters, but it just didn't work for me.


Serena said...

this is a book I think I'd skip...I'm not a big reader of holiday themed books, but this one sounds too boring for me.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

It is so rare that you don't like a book that I would say that's enough for me not to read it!

bermudaonion said...

I think the idea of the book is good - too bad the author felt the need to insert the historical figures into the story.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think it is unwise to mess with Santa.

Carol said...

I'm going to pretend I didn't read this review. I have this one in the cupboard and I'm really hoping to enjoy it.