Christmas Gifts by Mary Balogh
Genre: Historical Romance–Regency England
Setting: Christmas in England
Published by Class Ebook Editions Ltd., 2015 (reprints of three out-of-print novellas)
Overall Grade: A-
Synopsis: CHRISTMAS GIFTS brings together three previously published and long out-of-print novellas, each on the theme of Christmas gifts that will last forever because the gift, in essence, is love.
In “The Best Christmas Ever” a boisterous house party is in progress and all the children when asked are eager to tell what they want for Christmas. But one man feels sad, for his young child has not spoken since her mother died and he does not know if the gifts he has bought her will be what she really wants. Unknown to him, her one fervent wish is for a new mother for Christmas, and when she sees one of the guests she knows who that will be. But the lady concerned has an unhappy history with the child’s father.
In “The Porcelain Madonna” a gentleman becomes involved with helping an impoverished lady, who thinks of everyone’s happiness but her own. However, he has seen her gaze with longing at a porcelain madonna well beyond her means displayed in a shop window.
In “The Surprise Party” a man and woman who are antagonistic to each other find themselves landed with the care over Christmas of children who are related to each of them. They quarrel over which of them should undertake the task. It is not a happy situation until the children teach them the true meaning of Christmas, and of love, and they discover that they can do it together.
- I know why Mary Balogh is one of my favorite authors when I read these novellas. These stories show how we all hope Christmas will be.
“The Best Christmas Ever” — Rating: A
- This is such a lovely story. A little girl (5 years old) who hasn’t spoken since she saw her mother drown three years ago. Her father who loves her fiercely, but is so worried she might never speak again.
- Each of the children at their grandparents’ home tell their wish for Christmas. Except for Anna who doesn’t speak, but still makes a wish for a mother.
- On Christmas Eve Day she sees the woman whom she is sure will be her mother, but her father doesn’t cooperate very well since he knows Emma Milford from the past and is still angry with her.
- This is my favorite story in this series.
“The Porcelain Madonna” — Rating: B+
- This is a lovely story about a gentleman who has lost faith in people, is cynical and dislikes Christmas. When he sees a shabbily dressed young woman gazing into a jewelry shop window he sees it as “…the perfect picture of Christmas sentimentality….”
- He stops a street urchin from running off with her reticule, but when he is going to teach the boy a lesson she stops him. She doesn’t want the boy harmed.
- “But of course she was beautiful, and of course she was educated, and of course she was impoverished, he thought scornfully. What else could he have expected? And she had been admiring, not a golden bracelet or a diamond necklet, but a porcelain Madonna….”
“The Surprise Party” — Rating: B+
- The parents of three young children have died. It’s nearly Christmas when their maternal uncle and paternal aunt arrive to take care of them. However, the aunt and uncle dislike each other and neither really wants the children.
- However, when they decide the children should have a real and happy Christmas, they begin to forget their enmity and discover love for their nephew and nieces.
- No real jeers. I just like one of the stories a little better than others.
And a few thoughts . . .
- These are lovely stories of people who have lost faith in themselves and others, who are down on their luck or need the spirit that can come at Christmas to change their lives.
Have you read this book? How did you like it?
- Mary Balogh‘s first book was published in 1985 and she’s been writing (over 70 novels and close to 30 novellas) ever since. The latest book is Only a Kiss, the 6th book in The Survivors’ Club series, published in September 2015.
- She grew up in post-war Wales. She wanted to teach and travel so she took a 2-year contract in Saskatchewan, Canada. After a blind date with Robert Balogh she ended up marrying him and staying in Canada! She and Robert have three grown children. Her dream was to write, but that had to wait until their children were older.