’Tis the Season
by Lorna Landvik
Publisher Ballantine Books, New York
ISBN: 978-0-345-49975-2 (0-345-49975-1)
Not far into reading Lorna Landvik’s ‘Tis the Season, I got the feeling I was meeting familiar characters, treading familiar territory. It wasn’t that I’d read about her characters before. But maybe their cousins, or good friends. I felt like I’d at least been in the neighborhood. With delight I figured out what was making me feel so at home in her book.
Lorna Landvik writes in a breezy, funny style reminiscent of Patrick Dennis. Her ‘Tis the Season is Eloise meets Auntie Mame, or maybe Eloise grown up to be Auntie Mame. Landvik’s Caro Dixon is the poor little rich girl left behind with her nanny, desperate for attention from her family. More correctly, she was left behind with her nanny. Now she’s all grown up, and acting out for all the world to see. And the paparazzi are merciless.
She loves the attention, no matter how critical it is. And her behavior grows more and more bizarre, attracting more and more attention. Then, suddenly, she’s off the radar. The gossip mongers keep wondering, “Where’d she go?”
Revealed through media consisting of emails, letters, and news columns, the story of Caro as she undertakes to rediscover who she really is and how she got there takes us around the world. Occasionally she communicates with her contemporaries, most of whom she has alienated, but mostly she reconnects with two important people from her past. Their faith in the young girl they knew bolsters Caro as she proceeds in her self-exploration.
‘Tis the Season, however, is so much more than a novel of self-analysis. It is delightfully written, amusing and poignant all at once. It’s a revelation of people and what they can mean in our lives. It’s a gallery of life in our times. And it’s the story of connecting.
I’ve always liked books written this way, books that tell you a story in a sideways sort of fashion, making you do the thinking as the character reveal themselves through their writing. Landvik’s skill at this shines in this book, and her comedic touch is slick, witty, and deadly. It’s that sophistication that reminds me of Patrick Dennis’s in Auntie Mame, Guestward Ho!, and Paradise.
This is a book I read through in one sitting – or more accurately, one lounging. I raced through it, not because it was fluff – it’s quite perceptive – but because it was written to keep the reader reading. It entertains, and then keeps you thinking about its message. My only problem was that racing through it simply meant it was over too quickly.