Another Christmas Story by Susan Page Davis
Novella in The Westward Christmas Brides Collection by Barbour (2014)
Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels
SPOILER ALERTS: I have a couple of spoilers in my review so if you don't read reviews with spoilers stop right now and just leave a comment to enter for the giveaway!
For a short novella, Susan Page Davis's story packs a punch! The story starts right out with a bang as the heroine, Beryl, and her young brother, Sam. learn that their father has been seriously injured on their wagon train ride west. They are forced to take refuge in a nearby town and with the unlikely assistance of the store owners and their handsome son, James. Although Beryl has heard that Clara, the proprietor's wife, drives a hard bargain, the family is extremely generous to them, putting the little family of three (other family members died before the trip) up in a cabin they own. So far then, in the story, we had previous loss of family (grieving), relocating elsewhere, now severe life-threatening injury, and plans derailed.
Which makes one pause and ask--is this really a Christmas story? I think Susan Page Davis tagged it appropriately, almost tongue-in-cheek by calling it Another Christmas Story. This is a story about all the awful stuff that can still happen near the holidays. (The story does not terminate at Christmas, like most seasonal stories but continues on, again, a surprise in a novella of this length.)
Beryl's and James' romance is sweet and unfolds slowly. When her father dies and a difficult winter strikes, Beryl and Sam move in with James and Clara. This has a great boon for her brother because Sam benefits from instruction he receives with the Lassen family. Meanwhile, Mr. Lassen heads off to resupply their store.
There is a creepy episode that takes place at the store, with unwanted intruders. Again, not Christmas-like. And another tragedy in store. Again, not what one expects in a Christmas novella. BUT, Christmas doesn't come and go without there being many difficulties for many people. I think readers who are going through a hard time at Christmas might be able to relate to this story very well and draw comfort from the fact that it is so different.
This is NOT just Another Christmas Story. It is a story full of bibliotherapy elements. It's one of those stories where a friend might point out that particular novella to a friend who is suffering losses. And lest you fret--there is a happy ever after for the young couple.
Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of either ebook or paperback copy of The Westward Christmas Brides collection this week.
Question: Have you ever had an awful Christmas season? Did you read anything during that time that helped?