Monday, December 8, 2014

The Best of Modern Christmas Stories

In the last post, there was a brief run down of the worst that Christmas novels have to offer.  Frankly, the publishing industry has turned this into a niche that many times have no soul and it shows in the style of writing and canned story plots.    It may be awkward to say but this niche has  often proven  that there has to be bad stories in order for readers to find and treasure the truly good ones.  In this post,  there is good news for readers who want a memorable holiday story that will become a favorite for years to come.   If after reading these stories, and  readers don't place them on their  "go to " shelf for holiday books, it will be flat out surprising.  

First on the list is Dave Barry's  The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog (2008) is a nostalgic laugh out loud Christmas tale that only he could write.   Reader's looking for a light hearted Christmas tale of Christmas past that can be read in one sitting have found the perfect match in this story.  Barry's humor shines through page after page keeping the reader in stitches up until the very last word.  It has everything that a reader could want: warm family memories, a Christmas play and beloved family dog.    The story is authentic, honest and humorous. Was the number of laughs per page mentioned? .  It makes one yearn for the good ol' days when life was a little simpler.  A MUST  have for every holiday season.

Another notable  authentic Christmas novel that is a must read is The Christmas Cookie Club: A Novel by Ann Pearlman (2010).   Set in Michigan, this story is about twelve friends who come together every holiday season to share cookies and wine. The friends come from all different backgrounds but they share the holiday traditions that brings them together for a special night that is just for them.  No husbands.  No children.  No work.  Just time for them to enjoy the festive season and each other.   The bond that is shown in this circle of friends proves what women have always known for centuries:  if you can't tell your best friends your troubles than you don't have friends or hope.  The recipes for the cookies shared in the novel are printed  at the end of the book.  It's really a bonus to have a holiday bake book and good story to go along with it.

If the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles is appealing then David Baldacci's holiday novel is a perfect fit   The Christmas Train (2013) takes the reader on a journey with Tom, a writer who is trying to get home in time for the holiday.  Why not take a plane?  Well then the story wouldn't be as eventful as getting into with airport security which leads to Tom being forced to take a train.  This of course leads to him encountering  a memorable  cast of character which sets the story on track for  an unexpected romance.  The icing on the cake to change everyone's plans of the holiday: an avalanche.  Could it get any better?  Nope.

What do all these novels wonderful?  They don't try be something that they are not.  What you see is what you get.  It seems that many Christmas novel try too hard to recapture what The Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi did many years ago.  That is create stories with strong emotions and strong moral message.  These classics really don't need to be replaced or rewritten.  That is why they are timeless classics.   Barry,  Perlman and Baldacci understand that the  goal in writing their novels is to capture the readers attention and everything else will fall into place.  They don't need to compete with the classics they simply need to bring enjoyment to their audience.   The Christmas season is all the more brighter with these novels filled with laughter, friendship and the desire to make it  home for the holidays.

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