Kissing Christmas Goodbye is the sixteenth or seventeenth Agatha Raisin book written by M.C. Beaton. I know you are wondering why I say sixteenth or seventeenth. Shouldn’t I know? According to Wikipedia it is the seventeenth. According to the book it is the sixteenth. It all revolves around one I haven’t read which is titled Perfect Paragon. So I’m not sure where it really falls. But I tend to think that it is the seventeenth because in Love, Lies, and Liquor there was a character with whom I was completely unfamiliar.
Anyway, I haven’t reviewed all of the Agatha Raisin books because a lot of them were very similar to me. I was getting very frustrated that Agatha never developed as a person. The situations were hilarious and the books are worth reading (just watch out for bad language!). But Agatha never matured as a person. She never gained any strength of character where James Lacey was concerned. I will confess it irritated me.
I decided to go ahead and review Kissing Christmas Goodbye because I think M.C. Beaton is finally letting Agatha develop into a little more than a caricature of the original Agatha in the very first book or two. Of course some of the aspects of Agatha are very similar. She still longs for human connections and some of the things she missed as a child, things like the perfect Christmas. She still has dreams about James Lacey at the beginning of the book.
As the book progressed Agatha did a few things that impressed me. She marches over to the vicarage to confront the vicar Alf, who hates her, about his behavior towards his wife. But she is so sneaky about it that she gets her way without actually having to be nasty. I loved it. She takes in an underprivileged teen, whom she has just hired, when things get really nasty at Toni’s home. She goes to great lengths to help Toni with the excuse that it is a business investment. I think it is more because Toni reminds her of herself. The final things that impressed me and gave me hope that Agatha is growing as a person is the fact that she finally realizes that James means absolutely nothing to her.
I just hope that M.C. Beaton doesn’t fall back on the caricature of Agatha in the next book. No one that I know stays the same forever, and characters shouldn’t either. It makes them more lovable when they are capable of real change. I’m not asking for a complete personality change. Agatha wouldn’t be Agatha if she changed too much.
It’s a fun book with a few surprises. In fact, this might be my favorite Agatha Raisin yet. I thought I had it figured out, but it turns out that I was wrong this time. It does contain swear words. If only M.C. Beaton would leave those out!