Delighted and excited to announce that @BookElfLeeds has a brand new reading challenge!
Jess had decided to seek out the Christmas Spirit in contemporary fiction. And like all good reading challenges; there’s a strict criteria to be followed.
- The book must have Christmas in the title.
- Some one has lost the Christmas Spirit.
- A Christmas Miracle will therefore have to occur.
- Some one will then regain the Christmas Spirit.
So please, make yourself comfy and enjoy the 5th review!
Who has lost the Christmas Spirit?
In the first story it’s Texas cowboy Cal and his Big City Wife Jane. In the second story, a train carriage full of strangers.
How does the Christmas Miracle appear?
Through Talking To Each Other. This is a message of quite a few Christmas stories, apparently, that honesty and listening are Good Things in relationships. And Learning About Emotional Labour.
Debbie Macomber is pretty much the whole reason I’ve taken on this challenge. She is the “official storyteller of Christmas” according to her website and you will see a Christmas book by her out pretty much every year. She has written hundreds, literally hundreds, of books, several of which have been adapted as Hallmark movies, included the Cedar Cove series starring Andie McDowell, and is an incredibly popular and beloved romance and general warm and fuzzies author. I’ve never read anything by her and am so happy to correct that obvious mistake.
This book was two short novellas in one, so I am definitely going to read another Debbie Macomber by the end of the challenge as I want to see what she’s like in a full-length novel version.
The first story comes from her Heart of Texas series, set in the small town of Promise, and includes characters that are clearly part of a longer story arc. Cal and Jane are not hugely happily married, Cal is a bit of a dick to be honest. When Jane’s father is taken ill and she has to move back to California with the two small children in tow, the apparent cracks in the marriage grow wider, exacerbated by the interference of Alan Rickman’s Evil Secretary From Love Actually style husband hunter Nicole. Needless to say, Cal has till Christmas to get his act together in order to save his family. With a weirdly feminist-without-mentioning-it message about emotional labour and its impact on women, this is a nice story with a good message.
The second story, which is a standalone short, is just pure Christmas schmaltz joy. A group of strangers, including requisite Stressed Businessman, New Mother Who Isn’t Coping Because Her Partner Is Being A Douche, Cute Child, and Grieving But Ultimately Decent Widow, are trapped together in a small railway station during a snow storm on Christmas Eve. The obvious happens and each, in their own way, rediscovers the magic of Christmas. I read this story in one sitting on the train home from work and, not going to lie, I did look around at my fellow passengers and think “if this was us, what would happen?” and it did give me fuzzies because my thought was “we’d be alright”. A reminder that most people are decent if given enough time and room to be so, which I think we all need right now.
Listen to @BookElfLeeds and I introduce the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge – HERE
Or just click here!
Review 01 – Nine Lives of Christmas
Review 02 – The Christmas Secret
Review 03 – Last Christmas
Review 04 – Lakeshore Christmas