Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: The Christmas Glass

Summary: In the early days of World War II in Italy, Anna, a young widow who runs a small orphanage, carefully wraps her most cherished possessions -- a dozen hand-blown, German-made, Christmas ornaments, handed down by her mother -- and sends them to a cousin she hasn't seen in years. 

Anna is distressed to part with her only tangible reminder of her mother, but she worries that the ornaments will be lost or destroyed in the war, especially now that her orphanage has begun to secretly shelter Jewish children. Anna's young cousin Filomena is married with two-year-old twins when she receives the box of precious Christmas glass. 

After the war, Filomena emigrates to America, where the precious ornaments are passed down through the generations. After more than forty years, twelve people come to possess a piece of Christmas glass, some intimately connected by family bonds, some connected only through the history of the ornaments. As Christmas Day approaches, readers join each character in a journey of laughter and tears, fractures and healings, as Filomena, now an eighty-four-year-old great-grandmother, brings them all to what will be either a wondrous reunion or a disaster that may shatter them all like the precious glass they cherish.-- Guideposts

You might remember that I participated as a judge in this year's INSPY Awards in the General & Literary Fiction category. I had to read five nominated books -- all of which were good in their own right, but I wanted to share my thoughts about a particular one. It's called THE CHRISTMAS GLASS by Marci Alborghetti and while it wasn't my favorite, I do think it's a wonderful read during the holiday season.

THE CHRISTMAS GLASS follows the story of twelve hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments as they change hands throughout the years. The book begins back in the 1940s (during World War II) when a young widow who runs an orphanage is afraid that the Nazis will destroy her possessions because she is protecting some Jewish children. She sends her beloved Christmas ornaments to her cousin Filomena and her twin daughters for protection. These ornaments are handed down through the generations to family and friends, and twelve very different individuals (with very different life stories) ultimately end up with these precious ornaments.

THE CHRISTMAS GLASS is a heartwarming story about the twelve owners of the ornaments. Each chapter gives the background story about the various owners and how they came to be in possession of an ornament. These characters are complex and often times troubled; however, they are all brought together in some way by these ornaments. The relationships of the characters to the ornaments are obvious in many cases (i.e. Filomena's daughters and grandchildren) while the reasons some of the other characters have an ornament are a little less clear. As the reader follows the paths of the ornaments, he/she begins to see how all of the characters' stories are intertwined.

I don't read a lot of Christian fiction, but I didn't feel that THE CHRISTMAS GLASS was overtly "religious." I didn't find the book preachy in the slightest, and I honestly think it will appeal to many readers. In fact, if I had to summarize the main theme of this book (or at least the one that struck a chord with me), I'd have to say it was story about family. THE CHRISTMAS GLASS is a touching story that covers many years and many different characters, but it also delves into the complexities of relationships and family life.

At its heart, THE CHRISTMAS GLASS is entertaining read about family, love, faith, and Christmas. I have to admit that it's not a book that will remain in my thoughts for a long time; however, it is one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It's a heartwarming story that is also a quick read, and that makes it ideal for this busy time of year.


Veens said...

That is definitely unique plot. I have not heard of the author but would definitely love to read this book. I do not like overtly preachy books and it is good to know this one is not.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

It sounds lovely. It's so fun, to me, to read all these books around Christmas time!

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

The plot sounds wonderful -- a little like the red violin, except with ornaments :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

It sounds heartwarming. Probably better than reading a murder/mystery which I just finished!

bermudaonion said...

I love Christmas ornaments, especially when there's a story behind them, so I have a feeling I'd enjoy this book.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of this book. I don't think I can get it in by this Christmas but I will have to add it to my list for next Christmas.

Amy said...

I also really enjoyed this one when I read it last year. :) Hannah said there's going to be a sequel!