Everyone in town knows Emerald Crest, the green granite mansion atop the highest hill, and the legendary, lavish Christmas festivities that used to light up the nightsand the silence that followed when the parties abruptly stopped many years ago. And everyone has heard whispers about the reclusive, mysterious master of the manor, Henry Lafferty the Second.
When eleven-year-old Julia Russell steps into the great house for the first time and meets Mr. Lafferty, the entire course of her life shifts. He's nothing at all like the rumors she's heard from neighbors and classmates. He's kind and extraordinarily talentedhe also happens to be deaf and use a wheelchair. And when she overhears a secret about him, Julia decides it's time for the town to bring Christmas back to Emerald Crestan act that will change them all forever.
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About the Author
Phyllis Clark Nichols grew up in the deep shade of magnolia trees in Georgia and weaves her Southern culture into character-driven stories that explore profound human questions. She is a classically trained musician and enjoys art, books, nature, cooking, travel, and ordinary people. After retiring as a cable network executive, Phyllis began leading mission teams to orphanages in Guatemala and now serves on three nonprofi t boards, where she works with others who are equally passionate about bringing hope and light to those who need it most. Phyllis and her husband live in the Texas Hill Country.
Read an Excerpt
Sixteen years earlier in late September 2002
Julia, don't waste your time arguing with me. You won't win, and besides, what have you really won if you win an argument, unless it's in the courtroom? You remember that, you hear me?" Dad adjusted his tie and picked up his briefcase.
I planted my feet on that knotty pine floor in the front hall. "But Dad, I could go to Piper's until Mom gets home. I don't want to go out there to that old green house. It'll be boring." I had heard stories about that mansion, and none of them made me want to go there. Grancie said it was a lovely place, but some of the boys at school say the old man that lived there was scary. "I could stay by myself. Nobody will report you for neglecting me. I can just stay here and study. That's not boring. I'm not Jackson, and I know better than to play with matches. I am almost eleven, you know."
"Yes, you will be in ten more months, but what you really are right this minute is exasperating! Get your jacket on. It's getting chilly out there." Dad gave me the look that said I had lost. "Trust me. I promise you, visiting Mr. Lafferty will be anything but boring. Hurry, we have to pick up Mrs. Walker."
"But didn't Mr. Lafferty die?" I looked at my skinny self in the hall- tree mirror and tried to tuck my brown corkscrew curls under the hood Grancie had made for me.
"No. Not this Mr. Lafferty the Second. It was Mr. Lafferty the First who died."
"Wha-at? What happened to just calling him Mr. Whatever Lafferty Junior?" I put on my jacket.
"It's a long and complicated story, and you're not ready for that one. Besides, I don't have time. Let's get going." Dad headed toward the door.
I grabbed my book and my backpack. "But you said we have to pick up Mrs. Walker. Why do we have to pick her up? And tell me why this won't be bo-ring?"
"Julia Russell, with your gift for asking questions, I'm positive you'll be the fourth generation of attorneys in this family." Dad opened the front door just in time for a gust of late-afternoon autumn wind.
I knew he was in a hurry, but I thought I might wear him down. "You may recall, Dad, I didn't arrive here with a brain like some preprogrammed computer you buy for your office — I mean, except for all the autonomic stuff that I never have to think about. We all come wired for that. You know, the stuff like breathing and going to the bathroom and blinking my eyes. But there's so much else I need to learn. So how do you expect me to learn those things if I don't ask questions or maybe read and study, like I could be doing right now?"
"'Autonomic'? Really, Julia. See what I mean? You just asked two more questions before I got the first two answered."
"If you didn't make me go with you, then you wouldn't have to hear my questions, would you?"
"Tell me, oh please tell me, you have a book with you."
"I couldn't be reading a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven if I didn't have it with me, now could I?" I gave it my best German accent. "I think he was a whole lot of genius and slightly crazy. Did you ever read about him?"
"I tell you, never just a simple 'yes, sir' or 'no, sir' out of your mouth. You even answer questions with another question."
We made it to the car before Dad explained about Mrs. Walker. "Listen to me, Julia. You asked about why I needed Mrs. Walker before I got your Beethoven recital. I need Mrs. Walker because she is a sign- language interpreter."
"You mean like language for someone who's deaf?"
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean."
"Beethoven became deaf. But did you know he was deaf when he wrote his last symphony?"
"Julia. Quiet. There's something else you need to know. We don't have much time. So, just listen and no more questions." Then Dad told me about Mr. Lafferty. "Now, don't stare. He uses a wheelchair, and he's deaf. And he doesn't take to strangers. So just sit quietly and read another chapter about Beethoven." Dad paused. "And for God's sake, don't speak loudly to him."
"You mean to Beethoven? He's dead."
"No, I don't mean Beethoven. We were talking about Mr. Lafferty."
"Yes, but pronouns must have antecedents, and the last antecedent you used would have been Beethoven."
Dad raised his voice. "Just don't speak loudly to him."
"You mean loudly like you're speaking to me? And why would I speak loudly to Mr. Lafferty? He can't hear."
Dad put on brakes for the stoplight and turned to the back seat to look me in the face. "You're right. He can't hear, but some folks think if they speak loudly enough he will hear them. He won't. So just don't do that."
"Why are you meeting with Mr. Lafferty?"
"Because I'm his attorney, and I handle all of his business affairs. I've been doing that for years, just like your grandfather was the attorney for the first Mr. Lafferty."
"Well, if you're his attorney and you've been his attorney for years, why didn't you just learn sign language so you could communicate with him yourself?" I could see Dad's face in the rearview mirror. He wrinkled his brow and his eyes got close together. "Then you wouldn't need Mrs. Walker. Good question, Dad? Better than the others?"
"Just do what I say. Sit quietly and read your book, understand?"
"That's weird. So if I can only stare at my book, and I can't speak, why won't this be boring?"
"First of all, you've never seen anything like this house. Mr. Lafferty's a fascinating man. He's highly intelligent, extremely well read, a talented sculptor, and he has a special gift that maybe you'll get to see if you're really lucky."
"You mean his art?"
"Oh, no. You'll see his sculptures. The place is covered with them and his books, but sculpting's not his most unusual gift."
Dad turned into Mrs. Walker's driveway. "Oh, good, she's ready. Punctual as always." He waved at Mrs. Walker, who stood on her front porch holding on to her scarf like it might fly away.
"Or could it be that you're late and she's been standing there for ten minutes waiting on you?" I really wished I hadn't asked that. "So how will I know if I see this gift he has, and is he ... is he like a hoarder? One of those people who doesn't throw anything away?"
"We are only three minutes late, and I repeat myself to make my point: Julia, does anything come out of your mouth that doesn't end in a question mark? No, Mr. Lafferty is not a hoarder. Trust me. You'll know his gift if you're fortunate enough to see it. Now sit quietly until we get there." Dad got out to open the door for Mrs. Walker.
I was quiet for the next few minutes. Mr. Lafferty lived out in the countryside. Folks just passing through on their way to Elkins might never know there was such a house on the big hill on the edge of town, but all the town folks knew about the stone manor. In the summertime, it blended into the trees. But now that the leaves were falling, I could see the house from the road. Dad turned off the highway down a lane that wiggled up the hill. The closer we got, the bigger the house got. It was the biggest I'd ever seen, like a giant green castle plopped down and spread out in all directions. Two stories as tall as the pine trees, and three stories in some places.
Dad parked in the circular driveway out front. He opened the back door for me. "You remember what I said, Julia."
"Yes, sir. No talking, and no questions." I mumbled under my breath, "And no fun."
He walked around the car and opened the door for Mrs. Walker. Dad was just that way. No females were allowed to open doors when he was around. My grandfather was just like him.
I followed him and Mrs. Walker up the green granite steps to the porch. The porch was kind of small for such a big house. I'd never seen green stone like the outside walls of this house. In some places, it was as green as the grass in May, with brown streaks running all through it. All the windows had brown shutters.
I thought it rather strange when Dad rang the doorbell. How's a deaf man who lives alone supposed to know someone's at the door? But the minute that buzzer was pressed, lights flickered through all the front windows.
Dad must have known I was about to rupture with a question, so he quickly explained how the flashing lights alerted Mr. Lafferty that he had a guest.
The big wooden door with brass hinges creaked when it opened. Too bad there were no flashing lights on the door to let him know the hinges needed oiling.
And then there he was: Mr. Lafferty, the ogre I'd heard stories about. He looked like an ordinary person to me. He had kind blue eyes that moved around a lot under bushy eyebrows. His hair was gray and wavy and looked like he might have been wearing a hat on it all day. He looked old, but his skin was a pinkish white with no wrinkles. He wore a plaid flannel shirt, and he had a different-colored plaid blanket across his legs. His plaids did not match. And it was a little chilly, but not chilly enough for that blanket inside the house.
Mr. Lafferty greeted us silently from his wheelchair. When he motioned for us all to come in, we followed him through the doorway. Dad stayed behind to close the door and to pinch my earlobe. That was my you-better-behave-like-a-good-Russell-daughter alert.
Dad was right, like he mostly was. I had never seen anything like this house. The front door opened into a foyer larger than our garage. It looked like an inside forest with dark wood paneling on the walls and green marble floors and sculptures of birds on tables all around. The room was so big and so hollow that our footsteps created echoes as we walked.
Mr. Lafferty wheeled himself into the dining room to the end of the longest dining table I had ever seen. Dad and Mrs. Walker sat to his right. I was still standing in the archway, looking at carved birds hanging by golden cords from the chandelier above the table, wooden birds perched on the windowsills, and a giant eagle looking as if he was about to take flight from the pedestal at the opposite end of the room. I couldn't wait to tell my friends at school tomorrow that I'd been to the green mansion and I'd met the troll.
Dad motioned for me to sit. I had to put my backpack down before I could pull the big wooden chair away from the table. Big houses wouldn't look right with dainty chairs. I sat across from Mrs. Walker, but I never opened my book. I watched Mr. Lafferty's hands begin to move, and I listened to Mrs. Walker speak. Then Dad would say something, and Mrs. Walker moved her hands while Mr. Lafferty watched. Then Mr. Lafferty made odd motions with his hands, and Mrs. Walker spoke again.
Dad was right. I was not bored. I studied Mr. Lafferty's hands. They were scarred, probably from his sculpting and carving tools, and his fingers were knotty like a pine branch, but they moved nimbly like Grancie's with her knitting needles. I moved my hands under the table, trying to imitate what he was doing. I was so fascinated with his hands that I wasn't paying much attention to what they were talking about until I heard Dad tell him about a family in town that needed help for some medical reasons. I liked medical stuff. A sick coal miner, I thought. I didn't know sign language, but I didn't need to hear what Mrs. Walker said. The sparkle in Mr. Lafferty's eye and the flutter of his hands already told me that some poor family would get the help they needed.
I behaved and didn't interrupt until I needed to go to the bathroom. I really needed to go, but I didn't know where it was. Dad was on the other side of the table, and that was like being across the whole room. I couldn't just blurt it out, so I walked around to where Dad sat and whispered, and he whispered back that the powder room was underneath the curved staircase across the hall where we had come in.
I only weighed sixty-seven pounds, but the cloppety-clop of my shoes sounded more like a rhinoceros. I took them off and tiptoed in my sock feet.
In the hall stood two identical doors, side by side, where Dad had told me to go. A house with a boy's and a girl's bathroom? But I didn't know which one was which. The first brass knob I tried was locked, or at least it wouldn't turn. The next one opened. Good. I did not want to disturb Dad again.
Even the bathroom was tiled in green halfway up the wall from the floor and then painted a lighter green above. Pictures of all kinds of birds lined the walls. The mirror above the sink was about the size of a door. The frame looked like golden tree limbs with green leaves made of stone that looked like Grancie's jade Fu dog. These people had a thing about birds. I washed my hands, opened the door, and heard it needed oiling too.
Mr. Lafferty seemed like a nice man to me, not like the stories I'd heard, and I didn't think he would mind if I looked around just a little. The staircase was curved, and the railing was dark carved wood. Beyond the stairs, I could see into a room with large windows. The sun was almost setting, but I could see the garden. It was unlike any I'd ever seen except in my mom's magazines. Trimmed shrubs and beds of flowers and bird feeders were everywhere. Birds flitted around and fed from mesh bags hanging from tree limbs and wooden feeders on top of posts. There were brick-paved paths in all directions. I figured that made it easier for Mr. Lafferty in his wheelchair.
Then I saw it. The piano — the biggest one I'd ever seen, even bigger than my piano teacher's. I supposed a big house needed a big piano. I sat down and raised the lid and ran my fingers over the keys — not white plastic ones, but real ivory keys. I had only read about pianos with real ivory keys. I imagined some poor elephant's misery so somebody could have a piano like this.
I was already learning my music for our Christmas recital, and I really wanted to try it out on a piano with real ivory keys. Then I could tell Mrs. Hawkins all about it.
Now, Jesus, please forgive me for what I'm about to do, but I may never get this chance again. And I really don't think you'd want me to miss it.
I knew how to use the soft pedal, and since Mr. Lafferty couldn't hear anyway, I didn't think my version of "Silent Night, Holy Night" would get much attention. I was wrong. I knew that my footsteps made noise, but I didn't know that sound traveled through this house like an echo chamber. Before I finished two phrases, Mr. Lafferty had come rolling into that room like a bowling ball on its way to a strike, moving one hand like he was conducting an orchestra and pushing his wheelchair with the other. Mrs. Walker was right beside him, trying to keep up and talking real fast. "Don't stop. Don't stop," she was saying in a shrill voice. "Play it again, please. Play it once again."
By then my dad was right behind me, and my right earlobe was between his thumb and index finger.
I didn't know what to do. Mr. Lafferty's face was a picture of pure excitement. I looked up at Dad. His wasn't. But he nodded his head and let go of my ear. I guessed that meant it was okay for me to play. So I did, only this time I didn't use the soft pedal. When I started to play, Mr. Lafferty wheeled himself right into the curve of the piano and touched the ebony wood with his right hand. He closed his eyes, and a smile settled on his face. It was like he went somewhere far away to another time. Every time I stopped playing, he wanted me to play again. I only knew three songs, but he heard them all three times.
I thought it sad that Mr. Lafferty couldn't hear the music, but I was glad he liked whatever he was experiencing that I didn't understand. And I was hoping that his liking it might keep me out of a ton of trouble.
Before we left, Mr. Lafferty invited me back to play the piano for him. For once, I didn't know what to say. All I could do was nod my head. I didn't have language for Mr. Lafferty. Except ... my grancie said that smiles, hugs, and music were the universal language. I had already smiled at him, and I'd made music for him, so there was nothing left to do but hug him. So that's what I did. I hugged him. He was like hugging Dad's set of golf clubs, and he didn't hug back. I think I scared him. But he smiled just a little when we were leaving, and he waved goodbye.
I had about a million questions when we got into the car. I thought maybe, since Mrs. Walker knew sign language, she might know a bunch of other stuff about being deaf. When Dad breathed between sentences, I said, "Dad, you said Mr. Lafferty's deaf, but I think he can hear. He heard me playing the piano."
"I heard you playing the piano and alerted Mr. Lafferty that I needed to go and retrieve you, Julia. That's when he took off."
Before Dad could say anything else, Mrs. Walker answered. "Oh, he's deaf all right, but that doesn't mean he can't experience music."
"So, what is music like when you can't hear it?"
"He feels it. He's able to sense vibrations in the same part of the brain that you use for hearing. His experience with the piano today was every bit as real as the sounds your dad and I heard."
"That's something I need to know about — brains and hearing. I'd like to know how all that works. I know about the eardrum and vibrations. Must have something to do with that."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Silent Days, Holy Night"
Copyright © 2018 Phyllis Clark Nichols.
Excerpted by permission of Gilead Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this story! It was so sweet! And how could you not love Julia? With all her questions and zeal to help Mr. Lafferty she was adorable! I so enjoyed going back in time and seeing her story. This Christmas story reminded me so much of the story of Rigoletto. It was delightful and an easy read. Y'all should definitely add this to your stack of Christmas books on your shelf! I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
I really wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this book since most of it is from the viewpoint of a ten year old, but thought I’d give it a chance. I’m so glad I did! Author Phyllis Clark Nichols created some very intriguing characters and situations that kept my attention right to the end. Not afraid to tackle the subject of bullying (yes, even adults can be bullied), I loved how Mr. Lafferty handled his unique position. Our heroine, Julia, has such a heart for Mr. Lafferty that you can’t help but find it heartwarming. While this is not a romance it is full of sweet moments that show love for our fellow man. A wonderful Christmas read with some surprises throughout, I highly recommend it! I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
Last year I read Christmas at Grey Sage. It was a Christmas story unique in its own way, and I loved it. This book is a similar style, however with a different plot. It's not a romance, or a mystery, just a sweet Christmas story that draws you in and warms your heart. A great book to read on a cold night/day with your cup of cocoa or coffee, snuggled under a throw on the couch, by yourself or to your family. The story begins with an older Julia, but quickly reminisces times gone by. Julia, remembers what it was like, as a young girl paying her first visit to Emerald Crest and how that changed her life, and the lives of those around her. At a young age she's a book worm, who uses big words, has an extended vocabulary and knows far more than most kids her age. She reminds me of my son, who also loves to read and occasionally talks over my head. Julia and her brother's sibling rivalry mimics that of my children a bit, always slamming each other with insults, whether jokingly or seriously. I think the author captured that part of adolescence to a "T". But the essence of the story is love, which is what Christmas is all about. It's about kindness and forgiveness, and you will get that "Christmas feeling" when you read it. I would say it's a book for all ages. It's not a fast paced, edge of your seat story, but it will keep you reading as you get to know the characters, their stories, the history of the place and the work God is doing there. You will come away touched and moved to slow down and focus on the Christmas Spirit. I received my copy through the Publisher and Just Read Publicity Tours. I wasn't asked or required to review this book in a positive manner. All opinions are my own.
This novel attracted me with its beautiful front before I ever read the back, so a literary "you had me at hello." This is such a sweet story of crossing barriers, considering other people and loving beyond measure. I have witnessed my own children reaching out to their disabled Grandfather and there is little sweeter. My only slight criticism was that at times I wasn't sure what was going on as the present day parts were less clear to me, but other than that, this was a tremendous story of human inner beauty. I'd highly recommend it.
Let me gush a moment if you will. I adored this book! I mean, it wasn't perfect and the opening left me a bit confused but it weaved together so nicely and really does leave you with a warm cozy Christmas feeling. A feeling of community and friendship and love and just belonging. This is a new to me author but I'm completely on board with reading her again. Like, I am actively seeking out anything I can find with her name attached! Julia is a bit over the top and I think if she had been my kid I wouldn't have near the patience her parents had with her. Just a guess though as she reminds me a wee bit of Munchkin. Never ending questions, answering questions with questions, nothing like a simple statement from this kid. Ever. From the beginning I didn't really 'get it'. I didn't understand the purpose of these people at this place and the reason for this party. For about a chapter and a half I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into. Once I started piecing it together I realized that I really didn't need to know because if I had then the entire story would have lost something. I needed to watch this friendship blossom. I needed to see this community build. I needed what this book had to offer. The friendship between H and Julia was precious. It was the perfect example of the idea that struggles are just opportunities to turn can't into can. It's so odd as at work we just had a similar training opportunity for something very similar. Building friendships that are cross generational. Building friendships with someone who you can't communicate with . . . yet. Building friendships that are based around mutual respect and true caring about another human being. This book is truly a reflection of what the Christmas Spirit can bring to individuals, friends, families and communities. Strongly recommended for anyone who just wants an amazing story of friendship and caring and respect. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Just Read, NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Phyllis Clark Nichols’ Silent Days, Holy Night is an improbable love story, with absolutely no romantic overtures amongst the characters. Eleven-year-old Julia Russell is a precocious, highly intelligent child, with an insatiable quest for knowledge, who never stops asking questions. These somewhat annoying personality traits prove invaluable when Julia meets deaf and wheelchair-bound recluse, Henry Lafferty. Julia’s determination to communicate with Mr. Lafferty lead to her learning American Sign Language, and open unimaginable doors not only in their lives but in the lives of innumerable members of the community. Anyone struggling with what love looks like on this side of heaven needs to look no further than Julia and Henry’s unusual story. ***The publisher provided a free book. However, all opinions included in this review are entirely my own.
Some people ease the stress of holiday bustle with Christmas movies, old ones and new. While I may be known to indulge in a few of those, I prefer to indulge in my favorite holiday cds (well, now I stream more than play cds) and carve out enough time for a few new Christmas novels. This year it seems that I'm busier than usual and the reading may be limited, but I am so glad that I took the time to read Phyllis Clark Nichol's heart-warming novel. When smart, witty 11 year-old Julia meets her father's reclusive client, Mr. Lafferty, the young girls takes an instant interest in him. Even on the first visit, she can tell that he is not the ogre that the town kids whisper about. As she learns more about him, she learns more about how one can be an instrument of God's love. This book can be enjoyed by a wide audience. With much of the story told as a flashback to Julia's childhood, but with an introduction and ending told by the adult Julia, the book could be read by preteens, teens, and adults. As a grandparent, I loved the involvement of Julia's grandparents in her special Christmas plans. Julia's relationship with her teen brother adds a bit of humor to the book, and the family's daily rituals of tea, cocoa, and a woodfire will make ready for their own family night-in. I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and JUST READ PUBLICITY. All opinions are mine.
Silent Days, Holy Night is a jewel of a story, a treasured Christmas classic that I savored through its touching moments, thoughtful acts of kindness, gentle humor, and even shed tears of happiness over. This is a story of a pivotal moment in a young girl’s life and its far-reaching effects, but also pictures God’s love in sending His precious Son to us. Phyllis Clark Nichols has become one of my favorite writers of contemporary fiction and Silent Days, Holy Night is a “best of the best” read for me. The narrative begins with the unveiling of festive preparations for a Christmas gala at Emerald Crest, a majestic mansion in the mountains of West Virginia, then takes us back sixteen years to 2002, when a ten-year-old Julia first meets Henry Lafferty the Second, a recluse in his late 50s. Emerald Crest itself becomes a major character, a mountain home with outside walls built out of green granite from the north, and floors out of green marble from Ireland, a tribute to Henry’s grandmother. Julia and Henry Lafferty are two of the most memorable fictional characters ever – rich, well-drawn, relatable characters who pull at the heart strings. With the precocious Julia, the author did a wonderful job in combining childlike qualities with those of inquisitiveness, intellect, and giftedness. Henry, given the name “H” in sign language by Julia, is kind hearted, generous, highly intelligent, and a talented sculptor. The connection between these two is palpable, and no words are necessary as music, smiles and hugs become their language. In the words of Julia’s grandmother, Grancie, “His troubles could have made him a bitter, angry man, but they just seemed to make him better. In his silence, he must have learned some important lessons about living and making a difference in the world.” There’s so much to reflect upon in this story, one being the way we interact with people whose disabilities set them apart. Getting to know Henry through Julia’s eyes was a beautiful experience, and although she couldn’t bring him sound, what she did bring was of much more importance – music, companionship, and new family-like relationships. Another thought is how seemingly unimportant moments can become all important in the direction our lives take. The dictionary defines pivotal as being “of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of something else” – and that perfectly describes Julia’s first meeting with Henry. Not only was Julia’s life changed, but that of Henry and so many others in the town. As I read this story, I couldn’t help but reflect back on some pivotal, God-sent moments in my own life. The overall theme of this story is its expression of God sending Jesus to reveal His character and love for us. Silent Days, Holy Night is a touching and emotional story, one that I will be reading again during future Christmas seasons. Very highly recommended. I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
The best kind of Christmas story Henry Lafferty the Second, aka HL2, aka H, was born deaf. When he was still a young boy, an accident put him in a wheelchair, never to walk again. Now close to sixty, he has spent the majority of his life in seclusion and silence. Despite the isolation he has experienced, he cared deeply for the people in the town. In addition to being a voracious reader and exquisite carver of birds, he has a special, secret talent. Enter Julia. This precocious young girl had a bigger heart than most. When she tags along with her attorney father as he meets with his client, Mr. Lafferty, she is immediately drawn to him. She discovers that he is able to experience the music from the piano as she plays and that he recognizes the song. Realizing also that she can communicate with him if she learns sign language, she insinuates herself into his life and his heart. There is so much to love about this special story! I can’t bring myself to call it heartwarming because that seems insufficient to describe the deep love that Julia and Mr. Lafferty develop for one another and the richness of this story of their friendship and trust. There is a mystery as windows of the mansion are broken by an unknown source and search and rescue mission that has to be executed. In the world of the deaf, a sign name is something special. It is given to one by a deaf person and expresses much more than just a name. Parts of personality shine through. The sign name given to Henry by his mother spoke to me of her love for him. The sign name he gave to Julia was not only a great honor, it was absolutely perfect for her. I can only hope that if I were ever given one, it would be similar. Many stories that have “Christmas” in the name or that are marketed as Christmas stories fall far short of that title in my opinion. Silent Days, Holy Night embodies everything a Christmas story should be. It is a story of friendship, of sacrifice, of giving of one’s self and speaks of the great love that God has for us in that He sent His only son so He might lead us into a relationship with Himself. This is now the second book by this author that I have read (in just a few months even). I am now more convinced than ever that I need to read everything that she writes!! If you are looking for a Christmas story that is one, I highly encourage you to read this! Read my full review with a Preview at Among the Reads I was given a copy of this book for free. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.
This new-to-me author hit this one out of the ball park. Making the central character a smart, caring, warm-hearted child can't be beat. Julia's father is the lawyer for the town hermit who lives in a huge Emerald Mansion on the outskirts of town. The kids at school are always telling stories about ghosts, caves, and spooky things that supposedly go on at the mansion. When she has a chance to meet, Mr. Henry Lafferty and discovers his fascination with birds, his beautiful wood carvings, and his deafness and physical disability that keeps him bound to a wheelchair, a whole new world opens as she connects with his loves and her loves; and, in turn, opens a whole new world to him. Julia's love of learning and curiosity bubble through this entire book. The connection between her and Mr. H and all she learns from him as well as the warmth and caring she shows for him make this a perfect Christmas read and show the spirit of Christmas through a child's eyes. Definitely a must read Christmas book to fill your season with joy, love, and hope. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gilead Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
Oh, how I loved this story, it renews your faith in humanity, and make sure you read to the end for the epilogue, it will bring tears to your eyes. What a treat this story is, I enjoyed it from beginning to end, and wish it could have continued! This book brings a true meaning of Christmas, and the author places you right in the middle, as we walk with the main character, a precocious eleven-year-old Julia and a reclusive deaf man who has a gift of carving. This book would make a wonderful movie, and I would be sure to watch! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Gilead, and was not required to give a positive review.
This book gives you all the wonderful feels for the Christmas season. It is filled with warmth and the heartfelt giving spirit of Christmas. It shows how we can meet someone and they can change our whole outlook on life in the best way possible. The story follows Julia from her present-day party prep to her reminiscing why the house, Emerald Crest, means so much to her. Sixteen years ago as a young girl, she came upon the property of Emerald Crest with her father. Being a curious and inquisitive child, she took interest in Mr. Lafferty and bridged the gap between generations and worked to dispel small town rumors. Readers will love this wonderful tale filled with life lessons, faith and comfort for the soul.
With every Phyllis Nichols’ book I read, I become even more of a fan. In Silent Days, Holy Night, her third Christmas themed novel, Ms. Nichols proves again that she’s a storyteller deluxe. With just the right balance of dialogue and narration and a well-paced plot, this story held my interest from the beginning to the end. It was easy to identify with the book’s main narrator, Julia. Her inquisitive nature, sense of adventure, and love of learning get her into trouble but also endear her to the other characters and to the reader. Silent Days, Holy Night is a great personal read, but it begs to be read out loud with the whole family. Just have snacks at the ready because the yummy descriptions of meals, snacks, and tea times will make every reader hungry! Thankfully, two cookie recipes are included in the back of the book as a delightful bonus. I highly recommend this book for almost every age reader.
I am so happy to have discovered this new-to-me author. Silent Days, Holy Night is a poignant story told by Julia Russell as she remembers meeting Henry Lafferty as a ten-year-old girl and their growing relationship. Ever the inquisitive one, Julia was more than excited to meet the reclusive Mr. Lafferty, and was astonished to learn that he could neither walk, hear or speak, but after discovering their shared love of music, Julia was determined to learn to communicate with the man who would become her closest friend. This story is reminiscent of the children's classic Pollyanna, made into a family favorite movie. It too has movie potential, but far beyond a predictable Hallmark Christmas movie. Silent Days, Holy Night deals with the messiness of growing up, reaching out to others and not giving up when it is difficult, and selflessness. Adults will enjoy this story, but it would also make a great family read-aloud during the holidays, providing great fodder for conversation. I am grateful to NetGalley and Gilead Publishing for providing me with a copy of Silent Days, Holy Night in exchange for my honest opinion, which is that this is a wonderful holiday story. I was under no obligation to write a positive review and received no monetary compensation.