Maigret: A Maigret Christmas

A Maigret Christmas is a seasonal novella published in 1951, during a period when Simenon was toodling about the U.S. The action all takes place on Christmas Day, with Maigret only leaving his apartment once, and that just to go across the street. So it’s a tidy little drama as well as “a family affair” since Madame Maigret is always about, knitting or cooking and just generally helping out in any way she can.

The mystery starts out promising. A little girl in an apartment across the way is disturbed to find Santa Claus in her bedroom, tearing at the floorboards. Santa gives her a doll as a present, but apparently doesn’t find what he was looking for. Will he be back?

I was expecting, from such a set-up, that A Maigret Christmas would be something cute. A confection. But it’s actually a run-of-the-mill Maigret story with a melancholy overlay. The detective chief inspector even wakes up Christmas morning feeling depressed.

The Maigrets have no children of their own and their disappointment in this regard is sometimes lightly registered in the other novels. But here it is front and center. The little girl across the street has been basically adopted by her uncle and aunt because her father is a drunken wreck. But her aunt doesn’t want her. So you have a child who needs parents and the Maigrets needing a child. At the end they’ll take the girl in “on loan,” which is no consolation to Madame Maigret, who at the end breaks down in tears, not of joy. Making it a very Maigret Christmas indeed.

Maigret index

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