A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella

A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella

4.3 31
by Liz Curtis Higgs

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 “A wonderful story of redemption and restoration that will warm your heart during the Christmas season—or any time of year!”
—Francine Rivers, best-selling author of Redeeming Love

Wrapped in a cloud of steam, the engine rolled to a stop, the screech of metal against metal filling the frosty air. Snow blew

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 “A wonderful story of redemption and restoration that will warm your heart during the Christmas season—or any time of year!”
—Francine Rivers, best-selling author of Redeeming Love

Wrapped in a cloud of steam, the engine rolled to a stop, the screech of metal against metal filling the frosty air. Snow blew across the railway platform and around Meg’s calfskin walking boots. The weather definitely was not improving.

She ordered tea with milk and sugar, eying the currant buns and sweet mincemeat tarts displayed beneath a bell jar.
Later, perhaps, when her appetite returned. At the moment her stomach was twisted into a knot.

“Anything else for you?” the cashier asked as she handed over the tea, steaming and fragrant.

Meg was surprised to find her fingers trembling when she lifted the cup. “All I want is a safe journey home.”

“On a day like this?” the round-faced woman exclaimed. “None but the Almighty can promise you that, lass.”

“A Wreath of Snow glows with warmth, charm, and grace. A wonderful read.”
—BJ HOFF, author of The Riverhaven Years series

Christmas Eve 1894
All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.
Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame.
When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?
As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and, especially, all things Christmas.

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Editorial Reviews

This Victorian Christmas novella unwraps a charming romantic tale about two strangers, one a rural Scottish woman schoolteacher and the other a handsome big city news reporter, both carrying heavy burdens of sadness.

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The Crown Publishing Group
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2 MB

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Stirling, Scotland
24 December 1894

     In all her twenty-six years, Margaret Campbell had never been this cold. Shivering inside her green woolen coat, she passed the crowded shops of Murray Place as the snow fell thick and fast.
     She could only guess when the next train would depart for Edinburgh. Why had she not consulted her father’s railway schedule posted by the kitchen door? Because she left Albert Place in tears. Because she left without even saying good-bye.
     Meg lowered her chin lest a gust of wind catch the brim of her hat and wrench it from her head. Another minute and she would reach the corner. Two minutes more and—
     “Mind where you’re going, lass!”
     Startled, she nearly lost her balance on the icy pavement.
     “Beg pardon, Mr. Fenwick.”
     Her former schoolteacher, now bent with age, merely grunted in response.
     “I’m Miss Campbell,” she reminded him, knowing how many students had passed through his classroom door. “Have you heard that I’m a teacher now? In Edinburgh?”
     “Aye.” He stared at her for a moment, then tottered off without another word, the tip of his cane drawing a jagged pattern in the snow.
     Meg turned away, slightly stung by the elderly man’s rebuff. Perhaps Mr. Fenwick believed unmarried women should reside at home with their families. If so, he was not alone in his opinion. But he didn’t know what life was like beneath her parents’ roof. I tried to stay, Mum. Truly I did.
     Gripping her leather satchel, Meg headed toward Station Road, glancing at the shop windows with their mounds of fresh oranges and brightly colored paper bells. Her two dozen students would be home by now, celebrating Christmas with their loved ones. Just picturing bright-eyed Eliza Grant holding up her chalk slate covered with numbers and Jamie McFarlane shouting out the alphabet with glee renewed Meg’s confidence. She was living in the right place and doing the work she was called to do, no matter what the Mr. Fenwicks of the world might think.
     The heavy snowfall muted the clatter of horses’ hoofs in the busy thoroughfare and washed every bit of color from the sky. Was it two o’clock? Three? She’d been so upset when she left her parents’ house that she hadn’t checked the watch pinned to her bodice or arranged for a carriage. Now she had to send for her trunk and hope it could be delivered to the railway station in time for her departure.
     She turned the corner and was relieved to see a host of arriving passengers pouring into the street. It seemed the trains were running despite the weather. Easing her pace to manage the downward slope, Meg held out one hand, prepared to grasp a hitching post—or a stranger’s elbow, if need be.
     Few pedestrians were moving in the direction she was. Instead, they were flowing upward into the town. Gentlemen returning home from the city, cousins gathering for Christmas, young scholars toting ice skates instead of books—all were tramping up snowy Station Road with joy on their faces. Guilt, as sharp as the wintry wind, swept over Meg. Her parents had looked anything but joyful when she’d quit Albert Place. Her brother, Alan, was the reason she’d left, yet Meg had hurt her father and mother all the same. “Forgive me,” she whispered, wishing she’d said those words earlier.
     For two long years she’d avoided a visit home, praying time might dislodge the bitterness that had taken root in her brother’s heart. But when she’d arrived in Stirling last evening, she’d discovered the sad truth. Alan Campbell, four years her junior, was even more churlish and demanding than she’d remembered and greedy as well, a new and unwelcome affliction.      His parting words would follow her back to Edinburgh—to Thistle Street, to Aunt Jean’s house, to her house. “What a selfish creature you are, Meg.” She flinched even now, remembering the cruel look on her brother’s face and the sharpness of his tone. “You could have sold the house Aunt Jean gave you and shared the earnings with your family.”
     You mean with you, Alan.
     Meg lifted the hem of her coat and stepped with care through the slush and dirt the horse-drawn carriages left behind. She could hardly deny Alan’s needs were greater than her own. But when she’d moved to Edinburgh to care for their late aunt, wrapping her aching limbs with compresses and feeding her bowls of hot soup, Meg had never imagined Aunt Jean would choose to bless her only niece with the gift of her town house.
     “Father should have been her heir,” Alan had insisted. Aunt Jean’s will, written in her neat hand, stated otherwise.
Over the midday meal Meg’s conversation with her brother had deteriorated into thinly veiled accusations on his part and tearful denials on hers, until she could bear no more. To be treated so unkindly, and on Christmas Eve! Her parents had tried to intervene, but Alan’s temper was not easily managed. Their patience with him was a testimony to their Christian charity. And to their love, though Meg wondered if guilt did not play an equal role.
     Meg wove through the crowd and kept her head down lest someone recognize her and draw her into a discussion. Much as it grieved her, she had no polite banter to offer, no cheerful holiday sentiments. By tomorrow her mood would surely brighten. Just now she wished to tend her wounds in private. She stepped across the threshold into the railway station and brushed off the snow that clung to her coat, glad to be out of the wind. Inside the nearby booking office a cast-iron stove glowed with heat, steaming up the windows. But in the waiting area and across the broad, open platform, winter prevailed. Holly wreaths, their crimson berries bright against the dark green leaves, decorated the painted iron pillars supporting the roof. Everyone’s arms were filled with packages, as if Saint Nicholas had already come and gone.
     Meg glanced at the clock mounted below the arched ceiling, then scanned the departure times posted for the Caledonian Railway. The southbound line, which stopped at Larbert, Falkirk, and Linlithgow en route to Edinburgh, departed at three twenty-six. Little more than an hour remained to collect her baggage.
     When a middle-aged porter lumbered past, bearing a trunk far larger than her own, Meg hurried after him. “Sir, might I engage your services?” As he swung around with an expectant look on his face, she paused, her resolve flagging. How might her family respond when a porter asked for her belongings? Her mother would surely burst into tears. And her brother? He would probably want the contents of her trunk tossed into the street.
     Determined not to lose heart, Meg reached for the small coin purse inside her satchel. “I’ve a single trunk to be transported from Albert Place onto the next train bound for Edinburgh,” she told the porter. She then informed him of the address and offered enough silver to guarantee his cooperation.
     “I know the house, miss.” The coins disappeared into his pocket. “Soon as I deliver this trunk, I’ll see to yours.”
     She sent him on his way, glancing up at the clock, hoping he would catch her meaning. Hurry, hurry.
     The queue at the booking window was blessedly short. Before she could join the handful of outbound travelers waiting to purchase tickets, a small dog appeared and began nipping at the hem of her coat. “Aren’t you a fine wee pup?” she murmured, bending down to stroke the young terrier. Even through her gloves she could feel his wiry coat and the light nip of his teeth as he playfully turned his head this way and that.
     Above the din floated a high, reedy voice. “Can it be Miss Campbell come back at last?”
     Edith Darroch. Of all the gossips in Stirling, she took the prize.
      Meg slowly rose to face the woman, who served up savory news and idle rumors like a hostess offering scones and jam. Though Edith’s hair had faded to the color of ashes, her eyes were bright with interest.
     “Mrs. Darroch,” Meg said. “Are you bound for Alloa to spend Christmas with your son?”
     “Indeed not.” The older woman gave her terrier’s leash a swift tug. “Johnny is returning home for the holidays, as any loving child should do. I expect him on the next train.” After a cursory glance about the station, she asked, “Is your family not here to greet you?”
     The question pierced Meg’s heart. Her parents had met her train last evening. But on this bitterly cold afternoon, she was very much on her own.

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A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 31 reviews.
booksandteainthemorning More than 1 year ago
Two young people find love and redemption over the Christmas holidays in Stirling, Scotland. This romance is endearing and poignant. Higgs' descriptions of Stirling and its populace prompted heavy sighs from this reader--so wish I lived there! I absolutely love this book and plan to read it again on Christmas Eve!
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This lovely Victorian Christmas story is one of love, forgiveness and redemption. Meg and Gordon meet after many years of separation. As children, they were involved in a near tragedy that has now come back to haunt them or to heal them. After a large snow storm, the train Meg and Gordon are traveling on becomes stalled on the tracks. The three mile walk back affords them the opportunity to become reacquainted. Whether this is a good thing or not, will be determined during their emergency Christmas stay with Meg's parents and brother. This story was definitely reflective of God's love, forgiveness and redemption of His people. It shows that following God's lead is always the best thing for our lives. A sweet Christmas tale!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
This book cost $2 there was 148 pages and out of that maybe there was 110 pages to read. The story was not well written .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline felt artificial. The characters were so self- righteous. I didn't feel the theme of forgiveness so much as guilt and shame. From both the main characters. I also felt the "forgiveness" displayed was conditional as the result of another's sin. Kind of a downer to me. I read a lot of Christian fiction and would be reluctant to recommend this. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sweet story about the power of forgiveness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will be drawn in quickly with this sweet story of love and forgiveness! Liz is such a great story teller!
TracyLeesie More than 1 year ago
I love Liz Curtis Higgs' books! My only complaint about this one is that it's too short. It's a very enjoyable quick read!
iblog4books More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story! A Wreath of Snow was the first book I've read by Liz Curtis Higgs, and I was so impressed! Liz delivered a sweet yet emotional story with lessons of forgiveness and redemption woven throughout. Often, I find novellas a little lacking—too few pages to fully develop the story. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I felt like I got a complete story in this short, quick read. I still wanted more, but it was just because I enjoyed the story so much! While this technically is a Christmas story, it would be a wonderful read any time of the year. I will definitely be on the lookout for more stories like this from Liz Curtis Higgs in the future! [5 stars] I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lovely, light Christmas tale that has a few unexpected twists and turns
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MinaD1 More than 1 year ago
An inspirational story of love and forgiveness As a first time reader of Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of inspirational fiction, I couldn't have had a more pleasant and gratifying experience. Five shining Christmas stars is my heartfelt rating for a holiday novella that by all means excelled for the historical accuracy of the late Victorian setting, charming characterization of lead couple, clean romance, and meaningful plot. Imbued with the Christian cornerstone principles of forgiveness and redemption, and delivered with the grace of an emotionally descriptive and eloquent prose, this heart-warming holiday tale is actually good for all seasons and all ages. It will not fail to engross those readers who love all things Scottish and Christmas, as well as those who appreciate a sweet romance enriched with graceful shades of angst and suspense. Highly recommended.
SarahSundin More than 1 year ago
Scotland, Christmas, and Liz Curtis Higgs - you just can't go wrong! A sweet romance, but the story also delves deep into what forgiveness means.
NOOKADDICTJS More than 1 year ago
Curl up on a cold night and allow this book to take you to a wonderful snowy setting. Wounded hearts are healed and a new love found. This is a great book to take your imagination to another place. It is for the reader who wants to relax and let their minds shut off the busy days of Christmas. I will choose Liz Curtis Higgs again. The story of forgiveness would make this a good book for club discussions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved how the story evolved with the topic of forgiveness and restitution. I didn't like how abruptly it ended as a love story.
Dee14 More than 1 year ago
The book was enjoyable easy read. Had book club today and all enjoyed the book.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Perfect short romantic read for Christmas! Scotland, trains, and winter snow characterize this Victorian Christmas novella by Liz Curtis Higgs. An independent young woman walks out on her family's celebrations, unable to cope anymore with her brother’s bitterness, but mourning the bitter blow her absence will cause to her parents. As filled with regrets for her brother’s childhood injury as anyone else, Meg can’t let it determine the whole course of her life. But will she let it determine the course of her love? Taking the same train as Meg from Stirling to Edinburgh is handsome Gordon Shaw. He’s hiding a secret hurt of his own and feels himself unworthy of anything more than a good day’s employment, though Meg does intrigue him. He writes facts. He lives frugally. And, disappointed, he knows himself a disappointment to his parents. Perhaps these two are made for each other and perhaps fate, or God, has thrown them together. But first they’ll have to forgive themselves, then learn to forgive those who hurt them. Meanwhile a heavenly snowstorm just might be the tool God uses to make them whole. An enjoyable romance with interesting characters, well-drawn message, intriguing surprises, and just the right touch of faith and hope, this is one to get you well into the mood for the Christmas season. I shall certainly be sharing it with my mother this year. Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review
coramdeo540 More than 1 year ago
A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella Liz Curtis Higgs Editor Summary: This heartwarming novella invites readers to experience Christmas in Victorian Scotland, as the chill of a family misunderstanding gives way to the warmth of forgiveness. On a reluctant visit home, an icy reception from her family in Stirling sends Meg Campbell fleeing for the train station, determined to spend the holidays alone in Edinburgh. When snow delays her departure, Meg pours out her heart to fellow traveler Gordon, an affable newspaperman who asks all the right questions, even as he keeps his own heartache under wraps. Then an unexpected turn of events finally points them both in the right direction: home. This stand-alone novella captures the unexpected gift of forgiveness and the hopeful stirrings of new love. Review: This was a quick read and suspenseful. Even though there were a few hints of what was to come it was still suspenseful to see it unfold. I like the main characters and was quickly drawn to Meg. It felt very real and like being in the house when the conflict was finally revealed to the secondary characters. Everything about the story felt like a grand Christmas celebration. The snow, the church service and the presents. It was a pleasure to read this story and provide this review. I would like to thank Waterbrook Press and Edelweiss for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.
tiinaj1TP More than 1 year ago
Take a trip to Scotland with Liz Curtis Higgs in her new book A Wreath of Snow. I've always wanted to visit Scotland (even though I'm Irish) and so I tagged along. I found a wonderful story that drew me in and made me sympathize with Margaret, root for Gordon and hopeful that there will be a sequel so I can find out what happens next. (Hint Hint) This is a wonderful story about 2 individuals hurt spiritually and emotionally by a terrible accident years before when Margaret's brother is injured in a Curling accident caused by Gordon. I could feel the emotion and the sorrow near the end of the book when Gordon does the right thing and confesses to what happened and loved the ending of the book. Sorta... I wasn't ready to end the story. A Wreath of Snow would be a great Mother-Daughter or book club read but if you don't have anyone to read it with grab a hot chocolate, latte, a warm afghan and curl up by the fire. It's a great book to read during a blizzard. Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to have a positive review and no money exchanged hands.
Kellie4 More than 1 year ago
A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs was a beautifully written Victorian Christmas Novella. It was a quick and easy read with a simple plot. Meg Campbell is trying to get back to her home in Edinburgh. She has not spent Christmas with her family in years because of a strained relationship with her brother and she doesn’t intend to spend this Christmas with them either. She meets a man on the train, Mr. Gordon Shaw, whom she has never met before, or has she? He helps her and a mother with her son when the train hit’s a snowdrift and is unable to continue its trek to Edinburgh. Because the train is stuck, the passengers must get off, and walk back to town, which also means that Meg must spend Christmas with her family. Due to the turn of events in her travel plans, she learns much about her family, both good and bad, all resulting in a fairy tale ending. I enjoyed this book by Liz Curtis Higgs, as I have enjoyed all of her other books I have had the opportunity to read.
JamieLittle More than 1 year ago
This novella is a quick and easy read, but I felt that it lacked depth. Of course that could be due to the fact that it’s a novella and and not a full blown novel. All that aside, it is a great story of forgiveness and redemption. If you’re looking for a quick read to get you into the holiday spirit try this on for size, it might be just what you need! Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.
ACS_Book_Blogger More than 1 year ago
This delightful Victorian Christmas Novella is set in the Scottish town of Stirling during the Christmas of 1894. It is the story of Meg Campbell, a bright and independent young teacher who spends her Christmas break with her family, her parents and disabled brother Alan, in Stirling. Her few days at home were met with disagreements and quarreling as Alan has been very difficult to live with ever since an unfortunate accident that occurred when he was but 10 years old which left him unable to walk and unable to live in harmony with those around him. Rather than continuing to endure the conflict, Meg chooses to leave and boards the train for Edinburgh in the midst of a blizzard hoping to put distance between herself and her family. On the train she meets the charming and kind Gordon Shaw, a newspaper man from Glasgow on his way to an assignment in Edinburgh. Upon Miss Campbell’s boarding the train, Mr. Shaw sees her and soon recognizes her as the sister of young Alan who, through his own carelessness while in a drunken state, Gordon had unintentionally injured some 12 years before. The story relates an unfortunate train accident that leaves all on the train walking some 6 miles back to Stirling to find food, warmth and lodging. It is during this walk that Gordon Shaw reveals himself to Meg Campbell. This wonderful story becomes a tale of truth, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. Intertwined with the story is the message of the gospel, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and the miracle of forgiveness. Enjoy reading this heartwarming novella during the Christmas season or at any time of the year. DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of A Wreath of Snow wa provided by Blogging for Books on behalf of the publisher, WaterBrookMultnomah and the author to facilitate an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer and we were not obligated to render a positive review.
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