Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may be playing in your head along with the visions of sugarplums, but when you're stuck in the middle of a fierce snowstorm in some nowhere train station in New England on Christmas Eve, what are you going to do? Debbie Macomber answers this question with heart and soul in her new short novel, Can This Be Christmas? Debbie Macomber just keeps getting better, and with her new tale, she has gift-wrapped a jewel of a story for her loyal fans, just in time for the holiday season. Her writing sings, her sense of story soars, and the intertwining lives of this little hardcover create a whole even greater than the sum of its delightful parts.
Len Dawber is trying to get home to Amy, his hometown sweetheart, but he's in New England, and she's in Rawhide, Texas. He has saved and finally bought an engagement ring, and he intends to surprise her over the holiday with a proposal of marriage. But she has doubts about him -- Amy misses him terribly, but she wonders if she's the only girl in his life, being that he's a sailor and has traveled to far too many ports.
Meanwhile, Cathy Norris is facing her first Christmas without her husband, Ron. He died of cancer in the past year, and Cathy's whole life had been built around him, even though she has children and grandchildren. Rather than face her first Christmas surrounded by the sorrow in her house, she decides to get on a train and head down to her daughter and son-in-law's home in order to spend the holidays with her grandchildren in her arms.
Matthew McHugh is Scrooge personified, and he makes no bones about it. He's had a nightmarish time on his sales trip, which pulled him from a less-than-happy household just before Christmas. His wife, Pam, is furious with him for accepting the assignment, as he always does, just before the holiday. Matt has barely seen any of his children for the past several Christmases, and his wife is tired of this routine in which she handles the holidays alone. But Matt feels he's torn between career and family, and both of them are losing out. As he waits to board the train for Boston, he's not sure if he and his wife will even last through the New Year.
Kelly Berry and her husband, Nick, have just adopted a baby after a long struggle to create a fledgling family together, and they too are heading to see relatives -- to grandparents eager to see the new member of the family. But will the young couple be able to handle the pressures of sudden parenthood?
Winter brings with it snow, and New England is famous for piling the icy dust on. The train gets delayed, and these folk, and others, are stuck in the train station of a small New Hampshire village, waiting for the tracks to be cleared. But is Christmas Eve a time for miracles? As these people interact, more by accident than design, is there a higher purpose to their having met? Will each, with burdens in their hearts, be able to find the real meaning of Christmas before it's too late?
Can This Be Christmas? is highly recommended. Wrap it up in silver and gold, and give it to the ones you love.
Jessi Rose Lucas, barnesandnoble.com