Pairs of Books to Gift this Christmas

Are your dear friends and family members eager to receive books this Christmas? One of the options that will make them love you even more is to present them with two books that share some similarities, so they can compare and contrast. Some of the books I’m about to recommend are on the surface obviously very much alike. However, they are not carbon copy of one another. Not only do their authors have disparate writing styles, but the details of the plot also end up making them unique in many ways.

 

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Both Burial Rites and Alias Grace are fictional books inspired by real-life occurrences – two women are considered guilty of murdering two people each. But did they? In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent presents the touching and poignant story of Agnes, whom was sentenced to death after being considered guilty of killing her lover, Nathan, and Pétur in Iceland in the 19th century. While awaiting the day of her execution at the house of one of the officers in the district, she is visited by Assistant Reverend Thorvardur and tells him her version of events.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood focuses on the role that Grace Marks played in the murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. While in prison, she receives the visit of doctor Simon Jordan and recalls various moments from her life until then. Grace’s inner thoughts and reminiscences are strikingly turn into words.

Photo of Alias Grace and Burial Rites

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Two real artists, a painter and a playwright, are characters in Girl with a Pearl Earring and Hamnet, respectively. Tracy Chevalier created a fictional story about the young woman on Johannes Vermeer’s most famous painting in Girl with a Pearl Earring. Set in 1664, the novel is narrated in the first person by Griet. Readers learn how she became a maid at Vermeer’s household and how she came to sit for him. The plot feels incredibly realistic.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, on the other hand, is a fictional tale about the death of the son of William Shakespeare, who is never mentioned by his name. The clues regarding his identity are plentiful, though. This is a story about grief and the emotions of the characters are duly palpable, particularly those of Agnes, who is at the centre of the book.

Photo of the books Hamnet and Girl with a Pearl Earring

 

The Double by José Saramago and The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier

Do you know someone who loves stories about doppelgangers? The Double and The Scapegoat are great books to gift them this Christmas. O Homem Duplicado (The Double in the English translation) by José Saramago has as main character Tertuliano Máximo Afonso. One day, while watching a film on a VHS tape, he realises that there’s a man in the same country that looks exactly like him, which he finds disquieting. This is a novel about how people like feeling that they are unique in every way.

The main character and narrator of The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier discovers that he has a doppelganger while in a station buffet in France. After having some drinks, he and Jean de Gué, the Frenchman that is his spitting image, decide to stay at a hotel. When the narrator wakes up the following day, Jean has disappeared and stolen his possessions. Faced with this strange situation, the narrator decides to pretend to be Jean. In the process, he learns more about himself.

Photo of the books The Scapegoat and The Double

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It’s well known that Rebecca and Jane Eyre have somewhat similar premises. They still feel distinctive while reading, however. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which is one of my favourite books, is enthralling, enigmatic and atmospheric. After marrying Maxim de Winter, the unnamed narrator moves with him to Manderley, his family home. If she was already insecure about her position and felt inferior to his deceased first wife, Rebecca, living there only exacerbated her uncertainties. Rebecca seemed to have exceled at everything, while she doesn’t know how to deal with the staff nor is familiar with her husband’s routines.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is a fictional autobiography of Jane’s life from childhood until she is employed by Mr Rochester to work as a governess at Thornfield Hall. The plot starts to unravel when she falls in love with him and secrets are revealed. Observations about love, social class, morality and feminism abound.

Photo of the books Jane Eyre and Rebecca

 

Have you read any of these books? Which pairs of books would you like to gift or being gifted this Christmas? Tell me in the comments!

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