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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini

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Review by Suze
Sophia and Lucas are both volunteers at St. Margaret's Catholic Church. Lucas is playing the piano and Sophia is the choirmaster. Together they're teaching the children of their choir Christmas songs. One of them is a beautiful poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Alex and Charlotte are both in the choir. Their mother is worried about her husband who's stationed in Afghanistan. Camille is the widow of a politician. They loved visiting the church together and have frequently made donations. Camille loves to watch the choir. After losing her husband she finds comfort in going to St Margaret's to watch the choir. Father Ryan loves his work, but he's had problems with his brother ever since he decided to dedicate his life to the church. Sister Winifred is the one who gives them all loving advice and who knows everything about the people in her church. In the time before Christmas people are having their problems, but the choir and the church are there to bring them comfort.

It's 1860 and Henry, a famous poet, has a happy family. He's living together with his wife and children in a beautiful home and they have everything they could ever wish for. Unfortunately then tragedy strikes. It's also a somber and dangerous time for the country as it's the start of the Civil War. Henry continually worries about his family. Especially when one of his sons wants to become a soldier. Henry is afraid he will lose another person he loves dearly and he doesn't think he can handle it.

Christmas Bells is a beautiful story about Christmas in a time of war. War is a constant stress factor in Henry's life. So many terrible things are happening and when a loved one is at the front it isn't easy to keep going for those who are being left behind. Especially when not all the news they're going to get will be good news. Christmas Bells is about those who don't feel so lucky and happy in the festive season. It's also a hopeful story. Christmas can bring a lot of good when people need it the most. I liked the important message never to lose hope very much.

What I enjoyed most about Christmas Bells is the fantastic writing. The story is absolutely amazing. I don't think it's a standard festive Christmas story, but not every story has to be like that. I'm glad that I had the chance to read this book as it deeply touched me. If you're looking for a really good Christmas book you should definitely read Christmas Bells. Don't expect it to be all about fun and lightness, but be prepared to be blown away.


  1. Wartime stories tend to make me sad. I would probably not have chosen Christmas Bells without your favorable review. The fact that it's not a standard holiday plot makes it more appealing.