Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas in Harmony

Christmas in Harmony. Philip Gulley. 2002. HarperCollins. 96 pages.

My first memory of Christmas was in 1966. I was five years old and standing in line at Kivett's Five and Dime with my mother and brother, Roger, waiting to see Santa Claus, who looked suspiciously like Bud Matthews, the man in our town who did odd jobs. He smelled like Bud Matthews, too--a blend of Granger pipe tobacco, Old Spice aftershave, and sawdust.

I enjoyed this novella by Philip Gulley. My first introduction to Harmony was Home to Harmony. Home to Harmony is more a collection of short stories about one town--one community, one church--than it is a traditional novel. It introduces readers to some wonderfully eccentric (quirky) characters in a small town. Christmas in Harmony is a novella set within that community of characters. If you haven't met these characters yet, this book is a good place to start. Especially if you are looking for cozy-type Christmas stories. Not that the book is too sweet--far from it! It's very funny, in places, as different members in the congregation have strong opinions on how to have the right Christmas Eve service. One member STRONGLY believing that they should try something new, a progressive live nativity scene, where members drive through town stopping at each place on the map. (One house for the sheep, one house for the shepherds, one house for the wise men, one house for Mary and Joseph, etc. The last stop being of course the place where you find the cocoa and cookies.) Others want a more traditional service--the reading of the nativity in Luke followed by cookies in the basement, I believe. So along with the tension of the present Christmas, there are remembrances of former Christmases. Stories about Christmas trees, shopping, seeing Santa, etc.

I am enjoying reading Philip Gulley, for the most part, and this novella would make a great introduction if you are in a seasonal mood.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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