The Christmas Angel
By Jane Maas
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013
Grades 6 and Up
I love Christmas stories! I used to love all the Christmas movies when I was a child like: White Christmas, Scrooge and The Christmas Story. When my children got older I started reading and collecting Christmas Stories–since I could not have them all hop onto one bed and read before bedtime I had to adapt a new tradition. So while in Middle School and High School during Advent I would start a Christmas story after dinner each night. But unlike when they were young–when they begged me to keep reading and I would tuck the book away for the next evening–now I either had to continue to read or run the risk when I set it down they would finish it themselves–taking away the magic of reading it ‘all together’. Sometimes dinner would last for an hour or more–just to finish a story. So here is the book I selected for this year. Enjoy!
This Christmas Novella starts in 1875 with Owen Thomas a poor miner from Wales who goes to the London Theatre and is infatuated with the actress with lavender eyes, Jessica Lavery. After the performance Owen goes backstage and proposes to Jessica—who although very flattered has given her heart to the theatre. Owen tries to give her a special gift of a hand carved angel with lavender eyes for the top of “their Christmas Tree” to seal their relationship. It takes Owen many months and many letters to Jessica to finally realize that he will never have her. With his heart broken he moves to America to a small mining town in Pennsylvania, named Bethlehem. Bethlehem a town where miracles happen! This is when the book starts to link the story of a school teacher, Maggie, who yearns not to be a spinster (old maid, never to marry). Maggie meets Owen and although not beautiful like Jessica, he gives her heart to her. Each chapter after they marry is about one of their children, grandchildren and great-children who follow the same family tradition of putting that angel with lavender eyes on top of their Christmas tree. At last the story comes full circle when that beloved Christmas Angel comes to a marriage where both husband and wife share the same family tradition and the angel now is at peace.
A delightful read for the holidays!