Earlier this week I wrote about Holiday Magic, a new anthology of heart-warming stories for the Christmas season by the World Romance Writers group of authors.
Today I’m delighted to welcome one of the authors, Jenny Twist, who is here to talk about her story, Marion. I met Jenny through our last anthology, Letterbox Love Stories. The World Romance Writers is an international group of authors, and so it was a really nice surprise to find Jenny grew up just up the road from where I lived in Yorkshire!
Welcome back to my blog, Jenny, and thanks for dropping in!
CHRISTMAS IN OXFORD
In 1979 I moved from the industrial North of England to study in Oxford. After the grey skies and grubby streets of Manchester it seemed like a paradise – a place of sunshine and hope – a place of enchantment.
Unlike Cambridge, where the colleges are on one side of the river and the more modern commercial district on the other, Oxford mixes up the old and new with a cheerful disregard for symmetry or style. Ancient colleges rub shoulders with shops, pubs and museums. Even in the heart of Oxford’s busy shopping centre you are only a few steps away from cobbled streets lined with ancient buildings sporting gargoyles on their roofs. You can live there for years and then one day take a different turn and find yourself facing a doorway with a pair of grotesques supporting the lintel – something you had never noticed or even suspected before.
The colleges all have their ghosts and legends. There are peculiar rituals that date back to mediaeval times and beyond. It is easy to imagine that magic can still happen in this place.
So when I was asked to write a Christmas story set in a ‘playground of the rich’, my thoughts strayed to my old alma mater. OK, Oxford isn’t exactly a playground of the rich. Rich people go there – as tourists, as students, but not to gamble or sail yachts. I don’t even know whether there are any casinos in Oxford. If so, I never came across them. And I know for a fact there are no yachts. Oxford is about as far away from the coast as it is possible to be in England.
But they come, the rich. They come to wander round the colleges. They come to see the Sheldonian Theatre and the Radcliffe Camera. They send their sons to be educated here.
So I thought I could probably get away with it. It’ll have to do, anyway. I’ve never been to a proper playground of the rich in my life. I wouldn’t know how to start.
My story, Marion, is about a rather unworldly Oxford don who is still mourning his beloved wife and is trapped in the past. This year, for the first time since her death, he celebrates Christmas at home and invites his family to stay. He and his grandson decorate the tree and write letters to Santa Claus. Jim doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, but in a moment of madness he writes his dead wife’s name on his letter.
Will she come? If she does, will she be a living human being or a ghost . . . or a corpse?
Perhaps she will come. This is Oxford, after all, where magic can still happen.
Jenny’s Social links: