When I downloaded "Christmas Tree Land" by Mary Louisa Molesworth, I expected a a sweetly old-fashioned Christmas tale. And sweetly old-fashioned it was, but Christmas only happens in the very last part.
Rollo and Maia are siblings who have lost their mother and are sent to live with an elderly spinster relative for a while, far away from home in a fictitious middle-European country, while their father has other things to do.
The elderly relative lives in the ancestral castle in the middle of dense coniferous woods, and to the children, it seems like a forest of Christmas trees.
They can't wait to go and explore the woods, and are indeed allowed a walk outside the castle walls with their nanny. The latter is happy to rest under a tree while the children play, and soon falls asleep. In the meantime, Rollo and Maia discover a small cottage in the woods...
The fairy-tale like story is one I would have loved as a child. I still enjoyed it for its writing style, and although I did not care all that much for Maia and Rollo (knowing from the start that all was going to go well for them, and especially Maia getting on my nerves sometimes), their adventures were a bit of innocent fun to keep me company on the train rides going back and forth between my place and O.K.'s.
My edition was a free ebook from the Kindle shop with no illustrations, but I found some online.
Originally published in 1884 or 1886 (according to various sources), this was one of many childrens books by Mrs Molesworth. She lived from 1839 to 1921 and has been called the "Jane Austen of the nursery", although she wrote novels for adults as well, sometimes under different pen names. Her wikipedia entry is here. Almost ten years ago, I read another book by this author. You can find my review here. Back then, my quick research did not turn up much about the author, but now I have find more detailed information about her life here - well worth reading, I think.