The Sacred Romance

 The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge

This was my second time though this one and I feel I got more out of it this time. It's funny how you can read the same book at different stages of life and they'll mean completley different things to you. I've been cataloguing my books this winter and have found several that need re-reading simply because so much has changed since I first read them. I've changed, and I want to see what they have to say to me where I am, and who I am, now. 

The Sacred Romance speaks of the longing we all have to be cherished by someone, and how God woos us to come to hIm for that deep love that we so need. The authors tell stories from their own lives and the lives of others to illustrate how we settle for lesser things and miss out on the best love story of all.  

They talk about what they call "the arrows", the hits we take throughout our lives that try to convince us we are forgotten or abandoned, alone. When we look at the arrows that have hurt us and made us question the goodness - or even the existence - of God, we can begin to see where we've made wrong assumptions about him and to understand that he has been with us the whole time. 

The book's subtitle is "Drawing Closer to the Heart of God". It's a phrase so often used in the advertising of books, music, spiritual retreats, etc., that I've become numb to the words and don't pay them much attention anymore. My ususal thought is yeah, yeah, they all say that. I don't know what drew me to this book years ago, but I can tell you that what it offers is real. I have drawn closer to the heart of God through it, and it's become one of those special books that I can pick up anytime and find encouragement just by reading what I've underlined previously.  

This is a book I can recommend wholeheartly; I hope you will read it and be blessed.

All New People

 All New People by Anne Lamott

I read the first half of this wondering where it was going and what it was about, but eventually realized I was missing the point. It's the well-meaning, messed-up characters that are the story here.    

Nan Goodman, recently divorced, comes back to her hometown in California and takes us through her memories of growing up in the turbulent 1960s. Her family is as peculiar as every family is when seen from the inside. Her father is a tempermental writer who never finds the level of success he hoped for, her kind and compassionate mother a devout Christian suffering with bouts of depression, and her brother somewhat of a rebel who dabbles in drugs. 

There is some plot in that her alcoholic Uncle Ed has a brief affair with Natalie, the best friend of Nan's mother, leaving Ed living with guilt and his wife, Pam, trying to find a way to live with the betrayal. Nan's parents have old ties to communism that seep into the story now and then, and Nan finds a friend in the ill-fated Pru, a young woman who comes to a gruesome and untimely end. So yes, a plot, but the best part of this book is Nan's insightful perspective on the people and situations around her. 

There are hints of trauma in her childhood that aren't fully explained and her growing-up years were filled with problems, but she narrates it all in a voice that never gives in to sentimentalism. I think that's why I liked it. She tells you about her life but doesn't play to your emotions; she leaves how you feel about it up to you. And the characters are all likeable, or if not quite, then understandable. You want them to succeed.       

The title comes from something Nan's father said to her:

"'Why do we make it all seem like a crisis, over and over again? Why do we worry it all to death, like dogs with socks or chew-toys? Look at it this way,' he said to me. 'In a hundred years? - All new people.'"

Set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing culture, All New People is an encouragement to keep on keeping on. Life is the thing and yes, it's hard and it's messy, but it goes on, and so can we. 

Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next series #2)

 Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde

This was fun! It's the second in the Thursday Next series, the first of which (The Eyre Affair) I enjoyed so much that I doubted the second could be as good - but it was. 

It's difficult to catagorize this series with a genre - it's mystery,  it's fantasy/science fiction, it's humour, and it's my favourite genre-without-a-name: 'books about books'.  

Thursday Next is a female detective who solves literary crimes by physically  entering books from which characters have been kidnapped, artifacts stolen, or lines rewritten. The plot whips you  into and out of the books on the shelves of the most amazing library you could ever imagine, a library with a talking cat who guards the books - and has an attitude.

To give you a better idea of what it's like, I'm going to quote a longer than normal passage and hope I don't get into trouble with copyright people. If I'm asked to take it down, I'll of course do so. 

"'What on earth is a grammasite?' I asked, looking nervously about in case the strange-looking creature should return.

'A parasitic life-form that lives inside books and feeds on grammar,' explained Havisham. 'I'm no expert, but that one looked suspiciously like an adjectivore. Can you see the gunport it was feeding on?'


'Describe it to me.'

I looked at the gunport and frowned. I had expected it to be old or or wooden or rotten or wet, but it wasn't. But then it wasn't sterile or blank or empty either - it was simply a gunport, nothing more nor less.

'The adjectivore feeds on the adjectives describing the noun,' explained Havisham, 'but it generally leaves the noun intact.'"

This conversation was held while Havisham and Thursday were inside Great Expectations trying to fix a plot hole. Miss Havisham, a character in the novel they're trying to fix, is also an agent for Jurisfiction, enforcing literary law   

And that should give you some idea how wacky the world of these books is. They are wildly imaginative and unlike anything I've read before. I'd like to dive right into the third one, but with only eight in the series I'll probably hoard them for a while. I want to make them last.

The House at the Edge of Night

 The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

This story follows the lives of the Esposito family over four generations from 1914 to 2009. The setting is the tiny, fictional island of Castellamare, located somewhere off the east coast of Sicily across from the town of Syracuse.

Amedeo Esposito comes to the island to practice medicine, meets and marries his wife Pina and they take up residence in "casa al bordo del notte" - the house at the edge of night. It lies just outside the village, where the lights from the houses taper off and the darkness thickens, and it is this house that becomes the center of life on the island. First there's the story of Amedeo and Pina with their three sons and a daughter; then the next generation of the daughter, Maria-Grazia with her husband and two sons; and finally the story of one of Maria's sons and his daughter. The bar/cafe the family run on the main floor of their home is the scene of much of the village's drama and Maria becomes the keeper of many of the island's secrets.   

Castellamare is far enough away from the mainland to be untroubled by most of what goes on there. Steeped in their own ways of doing things they are not much bothered by how they are done anywhere else. But even isolated as they are, they cannot escape the effects of the two wars and the economic booms and failures that shake the rest of the world. These wider events together with the smaller and more immediate doings of the island's people, the rivalries, romances, scandals, joys and sorrows of life in a small community, tell a rich and satisfying story. The characters are relatable - some of them a little weird and perhaps the more relatable for that - and the island setting mesmerizing, the sound of the sea the background music to the entire novel.

It's a bit lengthy - 415 pages in my copy- but that allows the story to be told in depth and lets the reader really get to know the characters and the place. It's a great story, a well told, epic tale of island life.   

Amazing Grace

 Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris 

I'm not sure how to articulate my thoughts, or even what they are really, about this book of essays chronicling the author's return to the Christian church and her struggles with the 'vocabulary of faith'.  

She attended church as a child but grew away from it in her teens. As an adult she began to feel drawn back to it but was hindered by the faith words she had always found difficult to understand - words like judgement, grace, sin, salvation, faith, dogma, sinner, and evangelism. In short chapters - I no longer have the book but there might have been 60-70 - titled with the troublesome words, she explains how she has come to terms with them. Throughout the book she refers to her involvement with a local monastery and all that she has learned there, and to her family influencing both her stepping away from and returning to the church. 

There's a lot of interesting reading here, though I admit to finding myself confused at times. Granted she knows far more church history than I do and is much better at putting her thoughts into words, so some of the difficulty is my own.  She writes a lot about her spiritual heritage and what it has taught her about living out her faith in modern world, a life that in some ways is an admirable example for the rest of us. Yet it isn't clear if she believes in an actual heaven or hell, something the Bible leaves no question about, and she seems quite set against "evangelicals" and the term "born again", though the Bible is clear that Jesus himself said "You must be born again." 

I appreciated her openness and her gifted writing, I just didn't find many answers here. And maybe that's the point after all, that we each need to find our own answers and our own path to "the Way, the Truth and the Life". I believe there is only one God and one way to Him, through faith in His son, Jesus Christ, but I also believe there are as many journeys to finding Jesus as there are people who do. The important thing is not how we come to faith in Christ, but that we do. This book may help some with the hurdles on their own particular journey. 

The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

When Nicholas Nickleby's father dies, Nicholas is left to care for his mother and sister in drastically reduced circumstances. They lose their home and most of what it contained, and though their paternal uncle Ralph has the means to help, he does not have that inclination. In fact he sets himself against them and does all he can to ensure their lives are as difficult and unhappy as possible. 

Nicholas takes a job teaching in a boy's school run by the most obnoxious schoolmaster you'd ever want to meet. He and his family enjoy starving, beating and making the students miserable in as many ways as possible. Nicholas tries to help for a time, but when he can endure the injustices no longer, he leaves, unintentionally taking a student with him. Meanwhile, his sister, Kate, is forced into a thankless job and compromising situations by her cold-hearted Uncle, who begins to see his pretty neice as a possible advantage in his business interests.

Everyone is quite wretched for a time, but then, to the reader's reflief, Nicholas is hired by the Cheeryble brothers, who do much to help the family and bring justice to all the offenders. 

There is far more to the story than this brief description and there are many more characters fleshing out this lengthy novel, but I'll let you discover them for yourselves. Suffice it to say that it's Dickens, so there'll be some you love and some you hate and you'll probably be happy with the outcomes of all. 

The writing can get wordy and sometimes I wish he'd just get on with it, but then I come to lines like this and think again what a privilege it is to read his writing at all:

" The rules are a certain liberty adjoining the prison, and comprising some dozen streets in which debtors who can raise money to pay large fees, from which their creditors do NOT derive any benefit, are permitted to reside by the wise provision of the same enlightened laws which leave the debtor who can raise no money to starve in jail, without the food, clothing, lodging, or warmth, which are provided for felons convicted of the most atrocious crimes that can disgrace humanity. There are may pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humouous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equally attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of their pockets.

Dickens is disgusted by the injustice he sees in his society and he uses his novels to say so, clearly and with emphasis. I appreciate that aspect of his books, and the slightly more subtle way he skewers vanity and foolishness in his characters - 

"Mrs. Squeers adjusted the bonnet and veil, which nothing but supernatural interference and an utter suspension of nature's laws could have reduced to any shape or form." 

Well, maybe not so subtle, but perfectly worded, as are the following:

"...where sparking jewellery, silks and velvets of the richest colours, the most inviting delicacies, and most sumptuous articles of luxurious ornament, succeeded each other in rich and glittering profusion."

"...addicted to every depravity for which society can find some genteel name."

Reading Dickens is always enjoyable. The writing, the plot, and the characters all make this one well worth your time.  

Friday Book Beginnings

Rose City Reader hosts Friday Book Beginnings each week. She asks that we "share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week, or just a book that caught your fancy and you want to highlight.” 

My book beginning:

One of the books I'm reading now is A House By The Shore by Alison Johnson. The first line doesn't tell you much so I'll include a bit more:

'"One stormy December evening when we were discussing alternative careers, Andrew decided it was time I wrote a book.
    "But how would I start?"
"I'll give you chapter headings," he volunteered, hopefully. "One: How I married Andrew and Had to Keep Him for the Rest of His Life. Two: Why We Came to Harris - why did we come to Harris?"
     "Not for the weather," I said, glumly..."'

The book chronicles the 12 years Alison Johnson and her husband spent on Harris, an island in the Outer Hebrides. They taught school there for a while then bought an abandoned manse, and after much hard work and endless difficulties, turned it into a successful inn. At only a few pages in I'm finding it fascinating, but for an ocean-obsessed island-addict that was pretty much inevitable.

Be sure to visit Rose City Reader to check out some of the other Book Beginnings posted there.

The Prince and the Pauper

 The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Two boys, one a prince and one a pauper, discover they look alike, almost identical in fact, and so, wouldn't it be fun to change places for awhile? The prince exchanges his rich clothing for the rags of the pauper and heads out into the the streets of London; the pauper dresses himself in the prince's finery and heads into the palace. 

The prince is soon discovered by the pauper's abusive father who mistakes him for  his own son and treats him accordingly. He runs away, is caught again, then is rescued by a kind man who plays along with his claiming to be a prince but in truth thinks he's lost his mind. Again he falls into the hands of his father and his cohorts, is roughly handled, half-starved and tormented, not at all the fun adventure he'd expected when switching identities with the pauper. 

The pauper, who palace officials suspect has lost his mind, doesn't know how to behave, where to go or what to say and doesn't recognize any of the prince's closest advisors and attendants. No one questions him in spite of his strange behaviour because he is, after all, the prince and could order their heads removed at any time. He quickly adapts to living like a prince, enjoying the luxury, the obedience of others whenever he speaks, and the public adulation, even doing some good in the making of more merciful laws for the people. As the time for his coronation as king approaches, his mother recognizes and approaches her missing and much grieved son, but he casts her off. Then, haunted by the pain and sadness in her eyes, he is filled with grief and shame at what he has become. 

In the end the real prince, now the king, is restored to his exalted position, and the pauper is honored and rewarded for the good things he did while the throne was his. Relationships are restored, the good are happy and the bad are miserable -  the right and proper conclusion for any fairytale.     


 Nemesis by Agatha Christie

I'm just getting into the Miss Marple novels and am quite enjoying them. With wonderful writing and quirky characters they could, I'm sure, become addictive.

In this one Miss Marple is surprised to receive a letter asking her to meet with the solicitors of a recently deceased old acquaitance. At their office they explain that the deceased has left her a large sum of money, contingent on her accepting the challenge of solving a mystery. 

She's given no further information, but a couple of weeks later she receives an invitation to a home and garden tour, all expenses paid. Making the acquaintance of others on the tour raises a few questions, and when one of them is killed in a suspicious accident it leads to the discovery of a previous crime and the reason her friend wanted her to get involved.

I love the way this author puts together the pieces of the puzzles she creates. I'm not a fan of how she concludes the stories with a fairly long summary of what happened and how she detected each clue and what it meant - I'd rather those things be revealed as the story progresses - but I so enjoy her writing that I will keep reading them. This one is in an omnibus of 4 stories, of which this was the second I've read. I'm hoarding the other two for one of those inevitable times when I'll be discouraged with other books and will need to read something I know I can count on to be enjoyable. Agatha Christie always comes through.

Friday Book Beginnings

 Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. If you want to participate, visit her site here to see how it's done. She asks that we "share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week, or just a book that caught your fancy and you want to highlight.” 

My current read is The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner. It begins like this...

" Once the whole of the island of Castellamare was plagued by a curse of weeping. It came from the cave by the sea, and because the islanders had built their houses from that rock, which had been the liquid fire of the volcano itself, very soon the weeping rang in all the walls of the buildings, it resounded along the streets, and even the arched entrance of the town wailed at night like an abandoned bride."

It sounds creepier than it is. This is the first line of the prologue and isn't the main story line, just a bit of background that comes up now and then. 

Be sure to visit Rose City Reader to check out some of the other Book Beginnings.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

 We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Rosemary Cooke's childhood was an experiment her scientist parents were conducting. She didn't know that till much later.

A sister she was close to disappeared when Rosemary was five years old and was never spoken of again; an older brother left home shortly thereafter and wasn't seen for ten long years. These losses left her mother deeply depressed, her father drinking too much, and Rosemary struggling with loneliness and guilt over her part in the disappearances, guilt that would affect every subsequent relationship in her life.

I've made it sound like a mystery, but it isn't really. It's about the confusing and complicated relationships of families, asking us to think about what and who a family is. The writing reveals emotional depths in its characters without sentimentality, a relief after some of the overly-dramatic Christmas reading I tried. This one feels authentic and the characters credible, drawing you so into the story that you forget you're reading a story and find yourself simply living in it. 

There's much more to it that than my brief summary tells you but I don't want to reveal anything that might take away from your reading experience. There's a twist early on that changes everthing and takes you on a journey you might not have been expecting. And there's a lot to think about on this journey, a lot to learn. It's not a story I particularly liked but it is important and memorable and I'm glad I read it and had to consider some of the questions it raises. 

This one is well worth reading.   

The Philosophy Book and Sister Carrie

 The Philosophy Book by Otto Bohmer

This little book (168 pgs) is meant to be an accompaniment to Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarter. It didn't come to me until years after I'd read that book and on it's own I must admit it was a bit dry. It gives a little information about each philosopher as he shows up in the novel, so I think having it as an accompaniment would have made Sophie's World, already an exhilarating reading experience, even better.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Carrie, 18, looks for work in Chicago where the jobs available to her pay so little that she remains dependent upon her sister's charity until she meets Drouet, who charms her into letting him support her in style. She doesn't love him, but he offers an alternative to poverty and as his mistress she quickly learns to appreciate the comfort and personal luxuries money can buy. 

After a time he introduces her to his friend Hurstwood, who becomes obsessed with Carrie and to whom she also feels an attraction. She continues to live with Drouet while Hurstwood urges her to run away with him, but then she finds out that he already has a wife and family and furiously refuses to see him again. 

Desperate, he sends her a message implying that Drouet is very ill, and offering to  take her to him. Instead, Hurstwood kidnaps her and takes her to New York City. Not being very attatched to Drouet (and loyal to nobody but herself it seems), she barely protests and sets about getting used to a pleasant New York lifestyle. 

What she doesn't know is that Hurstwood has lost control of his fortune and is supporting her only on the 10,000 pounds he stole on his way out of Chicago. That money eventually runs out and, determined to avoid poverty, Carrie auditions for a part in a play. She begins to find success as an actress and becomes financially independent enough to leave him. Hurstwood goes into a downward spiral ending in.....I won't say just in case I'm not the only person left on the planet who hasn't read this book.  

I intended to read it for years and finally got down to it when offered an audio version at an appealingly low price. I'd like to say I loved the story but the truth is I didn't. It was interesting enough to keep me going though, and the writing was wonderful. 

Letters Across the Sea

 Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham

A romance with some interesting WWII history. The title suggests an epistolary novel but it's not that - there are letters, but only a few. 

In the 1930s, friends Max Drefuss and Molly Ryan's friendship is beginning to develop into something more, but is complicated by their different faiths. He is Jewish and she, Protestant. With growing anti-semitism around the world and similar tension growing in their own community, their families - who have been good friends till now - and friends warn them against planning a future together. 

One evening at a community baseball game, tensions flare when a swastika is publicly displayed, resulting in a riot involving thousands. Molly's father, a policeman, catches Molly and Max about to kiss, and he grabs Max to pull him away from her. Other family members get involved and someone throws a brick hitting hits Mr. Ryan in the head, an injury that leads to a stroke. Everyone blames Max's father, who was trying to protect his son from Mr. Ryan, and the friendship between the families is broken. 

When WWII starts, Molly's four brothers sign up, as does Max. Molly is working as a journalist for the Toronto Star and she has begun dating a colleague. 

At this point in the story, the action moves to Hong Kong, where Max, Ritchie and their friends are in a battle for their lives. I didn't know anything about this particular battle or the camps to which the captured soldiers were taken and found this section quite interesting if gruesome. 

After the war, the survivors come home changed in body and mind. Some characters get their happily ever after and some don't but over all the ending is hopeful and upbeat. 

I enjoyed the history, but the story and dialogue seemed less than realistic at times. At the end the author includes a 'note to the reader' with further historical information. I found the writing better in that section, with Graham's enthusiasm for the subject grabbing me in a way the love story didn't. I did learn some Canadian history from it, so if I can't say I really liked it, I can say I'm glad I read it.


A Magical New York Christmas and Christmas By The Book

 A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes

This a romance as most Christmas novels are, but it sparkles with holiday lights, glittering store front windows, skating under the stars in Central Park, and the glamour of Christmas at New York's Plaza Hotel. 

Sabrina has accepted a job offer to be a ghost writer for a famous art dealer, a job that provides a week's stay in her own suite at The Plaza with all expenses paid plus a hefty paycheck at the end. She'll be writing his stories, including his time as a butler at the Plaza to the author of her favourite books, the Eloise series.

Sabrina meets Ian at the hotel bar and though a communication mix-up believes him to be a British Lord, when in reality he's just working for that aristocrat. Ian believes Sabrina to be one of the usual guests at the hotel, wealthy and beautiful, and out of his league. 

Of course the ending is predictable, but the plot is different than any other I've read and the characters are likeable enough that you care what happens to them. Even if I hadn't enjoyed the story, being immersed in a New York Christmas would have been enough, but with a decent plot and reasonably believable characters it turned out to be quite a good seasonal read.  

Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan

I'd read a couple of really bad holiday themed novels just before I picked this one up, so it's possible I liked this simply because it wasn't as awful as the others. But it does have a lot going for it: a lovely married couple struggling to keep their bookshop open; a small English town with realistic, interesting characters; random acts of literary kindness that make a positive difference in people's lives; and through it all the Christmas theme that remains distinct, but never over-the-top.

If there are a few too many happy co-incidences and if it all leads to the predictable happy ending for everybody, the story is solid enough to make up for it and, anyway, a certain amount of sentimentality is expected and acceptable in Christmas fiction. The writing may have a few weak moments but overall it's quite well written and it was a pleasure to read.

It was much better than I went into it expecting, and I have to say that of the new Christmas stories I read this year, this one had the best plot and enough of Christmas in it to be a satisfying holiday read. It 
has earned a place on my shelf and will be read again.

Christmas Reading

What a strange Christmas this has been for us. Dec 13th I came down with some random virus (not the flu, not covid) and am just now starting to feel like myself again. I was contagious so everyone had to stay away and I missed all the usual gatherings and celebrations. When I look back at it now, it's a just blur of shivering under a pile of quilts, coughing and sneezing, eating popscicles that all tasted like cough drops, and basically just trying to breathe. I wasn't able to read much because one of this particular virus' gifts was conjuctivitis in both eyes, but I did listen to a few audio books to pass time and stay relatively sane. Unfortunately I was in such a fog when I listened to them that I remember little about them now, but they served their purpose in helping me get through a trying time. 

A Town Divided by Christmas by Orson Scott Card
A small town in North Carolina has been chosen for a genetic study searching for a "homebody" gene to explain why people move back to their hometowns after trying to start a life elsewhere. The two scientists sent to conduct the study get involved in the lives of the locals and of course romance ensues. The division referred to in the title is within the town's Episcopalian congregation, a break that happened 87 years ago over a disagreement about which newborn would play the part of baby Jesus. Because of the title you'd think that was meant to be the main story line but I found it overshadowed by the genetic study and the romances. It's a great title, just not particularly apt in this case.  

It was a cute story - I cringe to say that because to me 'cute' feels like a derogatory term - but it's the only word I can think of that works in this case. I do think I might have liked it better if I'd read it; I found the narration came across as a little too wry at times.  

Christmas At Fairacre by Miss Read
This truly lovely book I did read and thoroughly enjoyed. I read it every few years and never tire of it. My original review is here.

Bethlehem, the Year Jesus was Born by Scott Douglas
A short book that is exactly what the title says it is. It looks at various aspects of life at the time of Jesus' birth and gives us an idea what it would have been like for the different characters in the story.  

The Garden House by Marcia Willett
Not a Christmas book but I needed a story to fall into and this served the purpose. Again, I more or less followed it while I was listening but it's a little foggy when I think back now. The main character is El, a young woman just out of university and grieving the recent loss of her father. She moves into his house, gets reacquainted with her childhood friend, Will, and together they begin to see that El's father had a life they'd known nothing about. I like Marcia Willet's writing and the narration by Emma Powell was perfect.   

Meet Me in London and Lost December

 Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo

Not one of the better Christmas books I've read, so I won't say much. It's the story of a fashion designer who agrees to a temporary fake engagement with a stranger willing to show her designs in his new department store. It's meant to be a Christmas book but it's not very Christmassy. It's pretty much all about their physical attraction to each other, a story better described as sexy than romantic I think. The plot had potential but there wasn't enough of it to make for a really good read. 

Lost December by Richard Paul Evans

In a modern day re-telling of the story of the prodigal son, Luke takes his trust fund and goes off with friends to do what he calls "real living", leaving his father broken hearted and without an heir for his business empire. The son gets in with the wrong crowd, blows through his money in less than a year and ends up disillusioned, broke, and homeless. Rescued by Carlos who finds him lying in a parking lot, beaten and robbed of everything but his underwear, he begins to realize how much he took for granted and how much he has lost. Carlos gives him a place to stay at the care home he runs, feeds and clothes him, and puts him to work helping care for the residents. Too ashamed to face his father, he takes an entry level job at one of his father's business outlets, grateful now for even a small income that will provide him with food and clothes. When Luke abandoned his father and the business, his father had suffered a major heart attack, forcing him to hire someone else to take over the running of the business. Soon the new guy's less than ethical policies begin to affect some of Luke's work colleagues. When a young single mother, and then his boss who is about to retire and needs his pension, are let go without reason, Luke decides to face his father and plead their cases. Will his father let him in the door, will he listen, or will he reject him?

As Christmas stories go, this one wasn't bad. There were times when things seemed to come too easily to Luke on his road to recovery and redemption, things that would be very unlikely in a real life, but the book is quite well written and uplifing in its way.