The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

snow-globeThis is another re-read for me; I read this short Christmas novella at the end of November last year.

I didn’t plan to read this originally, but I pick this up on a whim.

I docked a star this year – as opposed to the other re-read which moved me immensely, this one failed to move me as much as it did last year.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love this little Christmas story, I enjoyed it a lot. Yet, it kind of fell flat for me particularly the ending.

This story revolves around three women, Kiley, Suzanne and Allison. They’re best friends and they pass a mysterious slow globe which Kiley finds in an antique shop on to one another and SOMETHING happens to each one of them. According to what the owner of the antique shop says, the snow globe brings exactly what its holder needs.

To put in a nutshell, this book can be divided into three parts; a love story which revolves around lovelorn Kiley, a heart-warming family story with Suzanne, and Allison’s story which I can’t find words to articulate what exactly is.

The first two parts are delightful to read. They are fast-paced and are full of heart-warming vibe. Although I found the love story between Kiley and Craig a bit too fast-paced and insta-lovey, I enjoyed reading Kiley’s encounter with her Mr. Right.

That said, I must say that I found the transition from Kiley’s story to Suzanne’s story a bit abrupt. There was no clear closure to Kiley’s part and I was still deeply engrossed in Kiley’s love story, so the sudden transition baffled me a bit.

Suzanne’s story is well-written and beautifully crafted. It’s a typical I-woke-up-and-smell-the-coffee type of story, realizing what really matters on Christmas day, but the epiphany she has in her dream was therapeutic to read. It is very cleansing.

Nevertheless, I think I must say that Allison’s story fell flat for me. It doesn’t leave as big an impact on me as the other two stories have.

On top of that, I find the fiasco at the Christmas dinner a bit over-exaggerated; I felt the author tried too much to put forward the image of how messed up Allison’s family is after her grandmother passed away. As a result, I felt it a bit over the top and I was put off by it. Everything felt kind of slippery and didn’t sink in on me as much I would have liked.

Likewise, the ending didn’t appeal to me as much; I am still not convinced why they come to the specific conclusion, because the rationalization of what they do in the end doesn’t feel strong enough for me.

Overall, it’s a delightful read. I wasn’t too happy with how the story goes and ends, but it doesn’t change the fact that I adore the first half (maybe until 75% or so) of the book.

I gave this book solid 3 stars – or, 3.5 out of 5 stars. It didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed reading it.

O Little Town by Don Reid

o-little-townTitle: O Little Town

Author: Don Reid

Published: October 1st, 2008

Publisher: David.C. Cook

Length: 304 pages

 

It may have been a bit too early to pick up this book; having finished reading it, I am now convinced this book would make a fantastic holiday read.

The story takes place in a small town, Mt. Jefferson back in 1958, with an intense scene depicting a shoplift by a teenage girl in a department store just a few days leading up to Christmas.
The description is so gripping and excellent that I was completely swept by it in an instant. It makes a perfect entrance to the story that beautifully entwines the secrets and angst of three families and the unforgettable memories which Walter Selman holds deep down his heart over the span of fifty years.

Nothing extraordinary or far-fetched happens throughout the book; it involves normal people whom you may find in your everyday life – those with secrets which can never be confided in to others, or those having affairs and are constantly afraid of having their relationships exposed.

Everything barely hangs on a perfect balance. Yet they are, at the same time, at constant risk of being unearthed. With the bad news involving Walter, the seams start to fray and the characters desperately try to patch them up, attempting to keep them under wraps as they have been .

Like I said, the description is just superb and compelling. Although the story involves some inner turmoil and anxieties, the writing never gets over-exaggerated; something like tranquility runs through the entire book and it also heightens the sense of suspension by closing the chapters with many unanswered questions up in the air, leaving us wondering “what?! What’s gonna happen? What’s gonna happen next??!  Brilliant.

I may be giving the wrong impression about this book; it’s defintely NOT all about dark secrets or skeltons in the closet; it’s also a story of forgiveness and redemption. The sermon scene in the church best describes that aspect.

To be honest, I wasn’t expected to be drawn by this book so much; it is compelling, riveting, I simply couldn’t wait to wrap up work and go home so that I’d get to read it.

The epilogue particularly jumps out and I let out a cry of surprise when I found out who the narrator was.  Again, it came as quite a surprise, but I will keep it under my hat here – you must figure it out on your own.

This is arguably one of the most entertaining books that I have read this year. I highly recommend it.

 

この本を手に取るのはちょっと時期がちょっと早すぎたかもしれません。読み終えて、この本はクリスマスの時期にぴったりだなと確信しました。

ストーリーは小さな街 Mt. Jeffersonでを舞台に、クリスマスを数日後に控えたデパートでの10代の少女による、緊張感溢れる万引きのシーンから始まります。
このシーンの描写がもうとにかく素晴らしくて、あっという間に引き込まれてしまいました。3家族の抱える秘密や苦悩、そしてWalter Selmanがずっと50年もの間胸に秘めていた忘れがたい思い出を絡めて描いた物語への始まりにピッタリでした。

取り立てて尋常じゃないことは起こりません。毎日の生活で私たちが見かけるようなごく普通の人々を描いていて、例えば誰にも打ち明けられない秘密を抱えた人とか、許されない関係が明らかになるのを恐れている人とか、そういう人たちが主人公です。

全てが絶妙なバランスでなんとか持ちこたえている感じなのですが、でも常にそういった秘密はバレるかバレないかの瀬戸際で、Walterに関する悪い知らせをきっかけにその秘密がバレそうになります。で、登場人物たちは何とかして穏便にことを済ませようと奔走します。

先ほど書いたように、その描写が本当に説得力あって、引き込まれます。登場人物の内面の葛藤や不安な気持ちを描いているのに、表現が全然大げさにならず、なんかこう静けさみたいなものがずーっと流れています。で、章が時々後一歩で謎が解ける、というところで終わったりするので、それが一層こうサスペンス感というか「え、どうなるの、どうなるの?」みたいな気持ちを高めるというか。ほんとに素晴らしいです。

なんかこの本について間違った印象を与えそうなので念を押しておきますが、この本は暗い秘密と人様には言えないような家庭の秘密とかそんなんばっかりじゃございません。これは償いと赦しの物語でもあります。教会での礼拝シーンはそれを物語ります。

正直言って、ここまでこの本に引き込まれるとは思いませんでした。本当に釘付けになっちゃいました。仕事をさっさと切り上げてさっさと帰宅して続きを読みたい!って待ちきれませんでしたしw

エピローグはとりわけ素晴らしい。語り手が誰かが分かった時、思わず驚いて声を上げてしまいましたから。
でもここでは内緒にしておきますね。ぜひご自身で読んで確かめてください。

この本はおそらく間違いなく、今年読んだ中で最も楽しめた本の1つに入ります。おすすめです!