Summary: Still spry at ninety-three, Theodora has lived long enough to see her family grow into an insufferable bunch of truculent knuckleheads. Having finally gathered the whole bickering brood together for the holidays at her South Carolina home, the grand matriarch pines wistfully for those extravagant, homey Christmases of her childhood. How she misses the tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, the over-the-top decorations, those long, lovely fireside chats with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved housekeeper and closest confidante. These days, where is the love and the joy . . . and the peace?
But this is, after all, a magical time. Someone very special has heard Theodora's plea—and is about to arrive at her door with pockets full of Gullah magic and enough common sense to transform this Christmas into the miracle it's truly meant to be. -- Avon
A few months ago, I opened a package to find a copy of THE CHRISTMAS PEARL by Dorothea Benton Frank along with a cute little jingle bell. I thought it was a very cute marketing idea, but I just wasn't ready for holiday books back then. Well, you know that I've been reading a ton of Christmas books the past few weeks, and I finally got around to taking a look at this one. It was a cute, heart-warming read that I think resonated with me because of the holiday season. I'm not sure had I read it any other time of the year, I would have appreciated it as much.
The mass market paperback version of the book is a perfect little stocking stuffer. THE CHRISTMAS PEARL is actually a very quick read -- you can read it pretty easily in a sitting or two. When I started reading the book, I was surprised to see that although the book looks to be a "normal-sized" paperback, it is actually more like a novella -- around 150 pages. I was thrilled to see that the rest of the book was filled with tons of terrific sounding recipes. This sweet little book is actually a Christmas story and cookbook in one!
THE CHRISTMAS PEARL tells the story of Theodora, a 93 year old woman whose family is just a mess. They are all completely self-absorbed and just plain miserable people. Theodora's entire family (her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) come to spend Christmas in the family home with her, and things quickly take a turn for the worst on Christmas Eve when everyone gets into a shouting fest. I was really shocked how cruel the family members were to each other.
A "special" person from Theodora's past makes a very surprising visit and helps make Christmas magical for the entire family. I think my favorite parts of this story were the scenes with Pearl and Theodora. I thought the author did a nice job of showing the women's love and respect for each other. I also loved it when they reminisced about their past together, when Christmas was much simpler. As I read this book, I found myself shaking my head at how commercial we (myself included) have made this holiday; and I think this book gives a gentle nudge about keeping things in perspective during this very hectic time of the year.
Of course, THE CHRISTMAS PEARL is a holiday book and eventually there is a happy ending! The characters all see the errors of their ways and realize what truly is important in their lives. The story is rather predictable, but it's Christmas and I know I want the story to be wrapped up in a neat little bow and for everything to work out for the characters. That's really all I ask for holiday book -- to touch my heart and make me feel good!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.