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Silver Bells: A Holiday Tale

Silver Bells: A Holiday Tale

4.4 25
by Luanne Rice

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The enchantment of the holidays meets the pure storytelling genius of New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice, as she presents readers with a special gift for the season and a Christmas classic in the making…

On a quaint, snowy Chelsea street, librarian Catherine Tierney and a widowed Christmas tree seller from Nova Scotia will


The enchantment of the holidays meets the pure storytelling genius of New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice, as she presents readers with a special gift for the season and a Christmas classic in the making…

On a quaint, snowy Chelsea street, librarian Catherine Tierney and a widowed Christmas tree seller from Nova Scotia will rediscover the magic of the season where they least expect it: in a chance encounter that leads to a holiday surprise of love and hope powerful enough to last a lifetime.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A Christmas tree farmer from Nova Scotia and a lonely New York widow come together in this Christmas weepie by bestseller Rice (Beach Girls, etc.). Catherine Tierney, a corporate librarian who lives in a 19th-century townhouse on a quaint street in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, used to love Christmas until her husband, Brian, died of cancer. Each year, she awaits a sign from him that'll let her know he's watching over her. Christy Byrne, a widower from Nova Scotia, is in Manhattan with his 12-year-old daughter, Bridget, to sell his Christmas trees. Every night he leaves his boarding house in Chelsea to go looking for his estranged 16-year-old son, Danny, who ran off the year before. When Danny resurfaces and it's revealed that he's been living on the streets with the help of Catherine and her friend Lizzie, they all realize that their paths have crossed many times, and that they've touched each other's lives more than they could imagine. Thrown together in their shared concern for Danny, Christy and Catherine help each other forget their troubled pasts and move toward the future together. Rice's romanticized vision of Manhattan is sharpened by local detail, and her heartwarming Christmas story will please readers who like a nice dose of pathos with their holiday fare. Agent, Andrea Cirillo at the Rotrosen Agency. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Can a Canadian Christmas tree farmer and a sweet librarian find true love in New York at Christmas? You bet. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lost souls, found again. Manhattan librarian Catherine Tierney has avoided Christmas in the three years since her husband's untimely death: the familiar rituals only intensify her loneliness. She no longer volunteers at the soup kitchen where Brian worked, leaving that to Lizzie, her close friend, a hat-maker and proprietress of an eccentric teashop. Kindhearted Lizzie hopes that Catherine will find the happiness she lost someday soon-perhaps with Christopher Byrne: a Christmas-tree seller, and brawny Nova Scotian, who heads for New York every December. Christine and Christopher have met, and he seems smitten: When he looks into her eyes, he can't quite get through his practiced spiel about the northern starlight caught in the branches of his trees. A widower, Christopher suffered another loss when his teenaged son, Danny, ran away to New York City one winter; after a fight (which Catherine witnessed), he refused to return to Canada with his father and 12-year-old sister, Bridget. Danny is now homeless, living under a different name somewhere on the streets of the city. Catherine, though, has kept in contact with the boy and, in her way, rescued him. An emotional reunion awaits-and a most romantic resolution. Lyrical and lovely: a standout Christmas story. Agency: Jane Rotrosen Agency
From the Publisher
"Lost souls, found again.... Lyrical and lovely: a standout Christmas story."—Kirkus Reviews

“Rice’s romanticized vision of Manhattan is sharpened by local detail, and her heartwarming Christmas story will please readers.”—Publishers Weekly

“Destined to become an enchanting Christmas classic… Pick up this book and let its magic work wonders as it enlivens your soul.”—Best Reviews

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Thorndike Paperback Bestsellers Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

All summer long the trees had grown tall and full, roots deep in the rich island soil, branches yearning toward the golden sun. The salt wind had blown in from the east, gilding the pine needles silver. Everyone knew that the best Christmas trees came from the north, with the best of all coming from Nova Scotia, where the stars hung low in the sky. It was said that starlight lodged in the branches, the northern lights charged the needles with magic. Nova Scotia trees were made hardy by the sea and luminous by the stars.

On Cape Breton's Pleasant Bay, in the remote north of Nova Scotia, was a tree farm owned by Christopher Byrne. His family had immigrated to Canada from Ireland when he was a child; they'd answered an ad to work on a Christmas tree farm. It was brutally hard work, and they were very poor, and Christy remembered going to sleep with a gnawing hunger in his belly.

By the time he was twelve, he was six feet tall, growing too fast for the family to afford—and his mother had often sacrificed her own food so her oldest child would have enough to eat. He'd need it to withstand the elements. For the north wind would roar, and Arctic snows would fly, and summer heat would blaze into flash fires, and Christy would work through it all. His mother would ring the dinner bell, to call them home from the field. He loved that sound, for no matter how little they had, his mother would do her best to make sure Christy had more than enough love and almost enough food.

His hunger had made Christy Byrne a fierce worker, and it had given him a wicked drive for success. He saved every penny he made, buying land of his own, using the skills and instincts he'd learned from his father to plant his trees and survive the brutal elements. His mother's love and generosity had made Christy a fine man, and that had made him a good father. He knew he was a good father. It couldn't be in doubt; he had a fire in his heart for his children. So that was why this year, cutting the trees on the mountainside in preparation for going south to sell them, he felt such a storm of hope and confusion.

Every year on the first day of December, Christy drove south to New York City. Hordes of tree salespeople would descend upon the glittering island of Manhattan, from the flatlands of Winnipeg, the snowy forests north of Toronto and east of Quebec, the green woodlands of Vermont and Maine, the lakes of Wisconsin, the lonely peninsulas of Michigan. Their trees would be cut and tied, hauled by flatbed trucks over the brilliant garland bridges spanning the East and Hudson Rivers, offloaded on street corners from Little Italy to Gramercy Park, from Tribeca to Morningside Heights, in the hopes of making a year's worth of income from one month's worth of selling.

A scruffy bunch, the tree salespeople were. Dungarees and Carhartt jackets were their uniform. Some arrived in caravans, like Gypsies, parked their trailers by the curb, and lived out December in the vans' cramped chill, carbon monoxide pumping out along with the meager heat. Some would stick a huge illuminated Santa or snowman on the van roof.

When it came to vending Christmas trees, Christy had no peer. He used to leave his family behind and travel alone—set up his stand on the corner in Chelsea, string up white lights to show off his trees with their salt-sparkle, and use his silver Irish tongue to sell every last one at top dollar in time to get home on Christmas Eve—laden with sugarplums, walnuts, fine chocolates, and cheeses from the best Manhattan markets; golden-haired dolls, tin soldiers, silver skates, and Flexible Flyer sleds for Bridget and Danny; soft red wool sweaters and fine cream silk nightgowns for Mary. Why not spend some of the profits on his family? He'd made plenty off the glamorous people of New York City.

He'd go home and tell everyone about it, tell Danny what he had to look forward to. "We'll be partners, you and I," Christy had said. "When you get old enough, you're going to own half this farm. Study up in school, son. You can't take farming for granted. You've got to be a scientist—learn all about weather patterns, and soil acidity, and grubs."

"You're saying it takes book knowledge? To be a farmer?" Mary had asked, laughing. Christy had held in his hurt—she'd never appreciated the skills it took. Her father had done two years of college in Halifax, worked in the front office of a lobster company, and Christy knew she had similar designs for their son.

"That, and instincts," Christy had replied, aware that Danny was listening, wanting him to be proud of his tree-farming heritage. "Running the land takes the best we have—all of it! It's magical work, it is, to make Christmas trees grow out of nothing much more than sun and dirt."

"And precipitation," Danny had said. "Moderate rainfall and occluded fronts." Christy had laughed affectionately at the big words and the serious look in his boy's eyes.

But after Mary's death four years ago, he had had to take the children with him to New York. Danny had been twelve then, and Bridget eight. The school always gave them permission, along with a month's worth of lessons and homework to do while their father hustled the trees. Danny's eyes had just about sprung out of his head, the first time he saw the city: the towers, bridges, fancy stores.

"This is New York City?" he'd asked that first year, mesmerized. "It's so—big, Pa! Like a forest of buildings, all lit up."

"Just don't lose sight of the farm," Christy had warned.

"Never, Pa," Danny had said.

So Christy would rent two rooms at Mrs. Quinn's boardinghouse right there on Ninth Avenue, where he could keep an eye on the trees. A big room for him and Danny, a smaller one for Bridget—he could afford it, because his blue and white spruces, Douglas firs, and Scotch pines were the best, and he could always get the rich New Yorkers to pay half again as much as they would for the trees on other street corners. He would rig a chain around the trees, so no one could steal them—and he'd sleep with one eye open, besides. He'd put nothing past New Yorkers—the street people would take anything, and the moneyed people would get away with what they could.

"It's how the rich get richer," he'd say.

Mary used to chide him for his cynical attitude about the wealthy denizens of Manhattan. "Christy,
they're paying our way the year round. They've been meeting the mortgage on our land, and they're going to pay for college—if you'll ever let Danny off the farm long enough to go. So don't go putting your mouth on them!"

"Ah, they've got so much money, they don't even notice the air they breathe," Christy said, ignoring her dig. "They don't notice the snow, except to complain that it ruins their expensive shoes. They're so busy rushing to get out of the wind, they forget to feel the sting on their faces, letting them know they're alive."

"Well, you're happy enough to take their dollars," she'd say.

"That I am," Christy would laugh. "Believe me, they've enough so they won't miss it. If I doubled my prices, I'd probably sell out twice as fast—the rich people love to spend their money, and if something costs them a lot, it gives them a reason to swagger."

"You're a scandal, Christy Byrne," Mary would say, shaking her head. "Selling Christmas trees with that kind of a mentality is some kind of a sin, it is. It's going to get you in trouble—mark my words."

Mary's family had been comfortable, and she'd never gone to bed hungry. What did she know? He'd ask himself in the tree fields wet with rain, the short, enchanted Nova Scotia summers when he'd walk along the crystal-cool streams, feeling the rapture of summer's breeze as he pruned the spruces' golden growth into Christmas tree shapes, calculating the handsome dividends they'd bring in December.

This year, with the power saws roaring like demons, spitting out wood chips in their vicious, hellish destruction of nature's best, Christy knew that Mary had been right. Last winter Manhattan—for all the money it had given him over the years—had exacted the greatest price imaginable, interest on all his profits, on what Mary had called his greed, compounded beyond comprehension: New York City had taken his only son.

Three years of city lights had proven too much temptation for the teenage boy. And last Christmas Eve, after a banner season of tree selling, Danny had informed his father he wasn't returning home to Nova Scotia with him and Bridget. He was going to stay in New York—find a job, make his way.

"What do you mean," Christy had asked, " 'make your way'?"

"Let me go, Pa—I can't talk about it anymore! You don't get it!"

"Staying in New York? Are you mad, Danny?"

The tension between them was terrible. Christy grabbed his sleeve, felt Danny pulling away—literally yanking his arm back. And that made Christy hold on tighter.

"There's no talking about this," Danny said. "There never was. It's just your way, Pa—the farm. I have something I want to do right now. It's my dream, Pa. And I have to follow it! You've taught me not to waste time talking when work needs to be done."

Danny was serious, and he was right: Christy had taught him that very thing. Talking took up too much time, when there was a whole farm that needed tending to. Of course, what Danny didn't know was that Christy was afraid of talking. He feared his children asking him questions he didn't know the answers to, telling him things that would stir up his emotions. He loved his kids with passion beyond words.

Now Danny was staring at his father with the resolute, not-to-be-deterred eyes of a dreamer. Christy was scathed, wounded. How could his son have a dream, something that would keep him here, in New York, that Christy knew nothing about? Deep down he knew enough to blame himself—he hadn't exactly been an open listener. But more to the point, how could he leave Danny alone in this place? It couldn't happen. Christy tightened his grip. Danny broke free.

Their first father-son face-off—right then and there.

They'd had a fistfight, there on the street corner—Christy had scuffled with his own son and, scrambling to hold on to him, had torn his jacket—the new down parka he'd bought for Danny at the start of the season. Feathers flying, Danny's elbow accidentally cracking Christy's nose, blood flowing as Christy tried to hold Danny still—if he could only talk to the boy, keep him from running—he could get him to see reason. There they were, struggling on the snowy sidewalk, Bridget screaming for the fighting to stop.

The police were called. Squad cars had converged, sirens blaring. The fight had torn down Christy's white lights, and now they lay tangled on the sidewalk, illuminating the bloody snow. One cop had grabbed Christy, handcuffed his hands behind his back—and Danny had used that opportunity to escape.

Christy's last glimpse of his boy had been of him illuminated by blue police strobes, dodging through the crowd of gawkers, white goose down spewing from his ripped jacket like a snow squall.

"It's frigid out," Christy had said to the officer booking him at the station. "He's going to be hungry and cold, with his parka ruined."

"That's the Christmas spirit. Maybe you should have thought of that before you beat him up," the cop said. His name was Officer Rip Collins.

Christy was too proud to protest, to spill his true feelings of grief and terror, to a New York police officer. What did the cop know? What did anyone from this brutal, blazing, glittering city know? With all its false light, its temples to greed, its foolish people so easily tricked into paying small fortunes for simple pine trees?

ROR—released on his own recognizance—Christy left the precinct house. He'd returned to the boardinghouse. His blood was roaring through his veins—he was hoping against hope that his son would be there. But all he'd found was Bridget, sitting on the bed, her face streaked with tears.

Christy had packed up his daughter and, with the heaviest heart imaginable, gone home to Canada. There was a hearing scheduled for March, but Officer Collins spoke to the ADA in charge, telling him what had really happened. And with Danny nowhere to be found—in spite of Collins and other city cops looking for him—the charge against Christy had been thrown out. Where he should have been relieved, Christy was instead soul-sick; to the New York police and court system, his family had become just another statistic of domestic trouble, and his son had become just one more street kid.

Now, one year later, the pickup was packed and ready for him and his daughter to return to New York. They'd had just one postcard from Danny, of the Brooklyn Bridge, with not a clue in the message about where he was living or how he was really faring. Just the brash words: "I'm doing grand—don't worry about me."

Not a word about missing Christy or Bridget or their thirty acres of fir trees on the edge of the world. The boy had come from a magical northern land, inhabited by bald eagles, black bears, red and silver foxes, and great horned owls. He had left it for the urban caverns of New York, populated by players and hustlers. Christy hated the place with a passion, never wanted to set foot in the city again.

But he knew he had to. Had to set up his trees on the same Chelsea corner, had to string up his lights so they'd set the salt crystals on the trees' needles gleaming and entice the customers, had to cock his smile and throw the charm, had to sell out his evergreens and put money in the bank. But most of all, had to be in the same place he always was, so Danny would know where to find him.

"Come on, Bridget," he shouted up the stairs. She appeared at the top, dragging another huge suitcase behind her.

"What's that?" he asked.

"It's my things, Pa," she said.

"Your things are in the truck, Bridget! We're only going for twenty-four days. What've you got in there?"

"Party clothes, Pa." Her green eyes were shimmering.

Christy stared up at her. She was almost thirteen now, a young lady. She'd curled her pretty brown hair by herself, tied it with a burgundy velvet ribbon she'd found somewhere. What the hell did she think she'd be needing with party clothes? Christy worked all day every day until his trees were sold.

Meet the Author

Luanne Rice is the author of seventeen novels, most recently Beach Girls, Dance With Me, The Perfect Summer, The Secret Hour, Safe Harbor, True Blue, Summer Light, Dream Country, Follow The Stars Home and Cloud Nine. She lives in New York City and Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 25, 1955
Place of Birth:
New Britain, CT

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Silver Bells 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
what did i do for new year's eve? for the most part, i blew my nose - and curled up on the couch in front of my oversize christmas tree with this lovely book. it's a perfect holiday tale, plenty of drama and character driving a charming plot line. best of all: lots of telling details about The Center of The Universe - NYC.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this last Christmas, and it was wonderful! When I was finished, I wanted to read it again! I would recommend it to anyone who likes some light hearted romance for the holidays.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I could just see the lights twinkling in Chelsea! A sweet holiday romance. I would have enjoyed a bit more information at the end about Danny's future. Without giving it away, it really was a worthwhile holiday read :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Warm, thought provoking. ...going to look up a lot more often
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Pepper Age: 15 Godly parent: Zues Height: 5'3 Eyes: electric blue Hair: long black with electric blue bangs Clothes: ripped black shorts, short sleeved navy blue shirt, black combat boots Friends: anyone Enemies: .....anyone >:3 Weapons: imperial gold sword, controlling lightning, controlling winds (mainly used for flying but ill still f u up with it) Just some things you might just need to know: Sage isbmy sister and if you mess with her i will f u up. Oh yea, and im super nice :3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Age:14•••••Parents:Poseidon and Hestia••••God of Ice. Can summon tidal waves••••••Single•••••has a sword named IceShard. Post
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book to read over Christmas if you are looking for an unchallenging, uncomplicated feel-good book. The characters are defined well enough and it is a good story. Anything set in NYC appeals to me so that aspect is engaging too.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finsished reading Silver bells and i loved the book. It gives you a insight of the true meaning of christmas and how important people are to each other.I just couldnt put the book down until i finshed it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
One year ago, Nova Scotia¿s Christmas farmer widower Christopher Byrne took his two children with him to sell trees in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Chris and his sixteen years old son got into a fight over the teen¿s future and soon the police arrive to take the older Byrne away. Danny vanished and has not been seen since and Chris regrets his actions ever since.--- Widow Catherine Tierney works at the private library of the Reinbeck Corporation. She has seen Chris sell his trees for years and saw last year¿s fight. She and her pal Lizzie have tried to help Danny who they call Harry for Houdini. A vanished teen and his distraught younger sister play matchmaker as the big city woman and the rural farmer fall in love, but it will take a miracle for this foursome to find peace on earth.--- SILVER BELLS is a delightful holiday romance starring an ensemble of characters who will make readers believe in the miracle of Chelsea. The story line contains the serious elements of a runaway teen and the homeless yet manages to uplift the audience with its caring cast. Readers will quote Al Michaels ¿do you believe in miracles?¿ with an astounding yes when it comes to Luanne Rice.--- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pads in behind ebony
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name Jack weapon a bow and a quiver that never runs out age 16 looks black hair with olive skin (girls IQ drops 1000 when I pass by) height 6'0 personality funny,smart,witty,good at anything friends anyone likes anything godly parent Hecate Hope you like this bio and thanks for reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually forget a few things + I have REALLY bad spelling, so dont mind. Name:Sabrina| Age:11, will turn 12 August| Eye color: gray/blue/ocean green| Hair color:Brown with red and white streacks| Wepons of choise: Fire Demon Bow, LightSaber(purple, duh), Swords of fury, and wand of fire.(Long range,short range, short range, long range/short range)| TMI coming up? No, this stuff here is MANDITORY AND IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!! History: When young, got cut by a meteroroid that gave her super powers so she can shoot fire from her hands, and when she gets angery, she gets Herobrine eyes. She also has a super suit of metioroid that is turquise. Can use the force and is somehow related to Hestia, goddess of the hearth, (how she got more fire stuff). She also has traveled through video game dimensions (dont ask). She was born a loner and might die that way.| Minecraft is incorperated!:You see, Sabrina is also able to travel to Minecraft, and is freinds with Herobrine. I dont care if you hate minecraft, because if you do, i really dont care and you can hate me to. (Born a loner, die a loner) I hope that you like my bio! XD -BriniDominator621
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sucks when you have to keep trying to post one thing over and over!!! POST POST POST
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Silver Bells¿ is a story on a tree farmer, Christopher ¿Christy¿ Byrne, from Nova Scotia whose son Danny runs away from him in New York City, and falls in love with a librarian, Catherine Tierney, who secretly helps and cares for Christy¿s teenage son. The premise of the story lies on the idea that it is often up to a man to determine whether his plans in life are for the best or the worst even if they may seem unreasonable or irrational. In this case, it was up to Danny Byrne who determined that his plans in life were for the best even if his father thought it irrational. Christy and Catherine are both dynamic and can also be marked as antagonists in the beginning of the novel. Christy, a widower, began his hate for Christmas ever since his son ran away the year before. Catherine, also a widow, started detesting Christmas ever since her dearly loved husband died a quick death from a sickness three years prior. Although she played a minor role in the story, Catherine¿s best friend Lizzie, on the other hand, can be labeled the protagonist in the novel. She was able to bring Catherine out of her anger towards Christmas, who, once out of her anger, was able to see the beauty of it. One major conflict that took place in the novel was when Catherine quietly reveals that she has been taking care of Christy¿s son for the past year. Christy finds himself outraged at the idea that he trusted this woman he now loved. He could not believe that she did not even, at the least, tell him that his son was doing all right when Christy would daily go out every night to search for his missing son. As the novel progressed, the son eventually shows himself but gets into an accident. There were silver bells on the photograph his girlfriend was holding on the day he got hurt and this was shown throughout the news in New York City. The location of these bells was the irony in the novel. The bells became some sort of a legend and everyone wanted to know where these bells were located. I do not find any interest in this book for the story was a simple romantic Christmas tale. There wasn¿t anything about the novel that made it appealing or exceptional in comparison to the many other books listed on the New York Times¿ Bestseller Booklist. Why did I choose to read it? I wanted to give myself a chance to read a contemporary romantic novel.