A Sandy’s Seashell Shop Christmas by Lisa Wingate is a short novella involving some of the characters from The Prayer Box by the same author. The owner of Sandy’s Seashell Shop, a gift store on the NC Outer Banks, plays a prominent role in both. In this book, Tiff Riley had met her husband in Afghanistan when they were both in the military. She came home to have their son, Micah, but her husband died around Christmastime. In the four years since, she hasn’t had the heart to celebrate Christmas, and Micah is too young to know the difference. She takes a vacation during the Christmas season from her nursing job in Arkansas to the Outer Banks, which was special to her husband in his childhood. No one knows them there or will be aware that Christmas is just another day to them. Tiff knows that for Micah’s sake she needs to make peace with Christmas, but just can’t yet.
While at the beach they come across a flyer for a Christmas celebration at Sandy’s Seashell Shop. Through a series of events, Tiff decides to take Micah to it, and for the first time she feels her heart beginning to thaw. But the last thing she expected was her own Christmas miracle.
This was a very short but very sweet and heart-warming story.
Genre: Inspirational fiction
Objectionable elements: None.
My rating: 9 out of 10
I got The Christmas Violin by Buffy Andrews last year, not having heard of it before and knowing nothing of the author, just because the premise sounded intriguing. The story is told from three different points of view:
Peter visits his wife’s grave almost every day. At one visit, the sound of someone playing a violin draws him.
Willow was a concert violinist and a single mom. Her young son died while she was away at a concert, and she feels it’s her fault for being away.Her manager tries to talk her back into touring, but she only plays locally. She visits her son’s grave almost every day and pours her heart out through her violin playing.
A homeless old woman lives in a shed on the cemetery property and is also drawn to the violin playing. In her daily rummaging, she finds the perfect gift for the young violinist.
This being a Christmas novel, of course Peter and Willow unexpectedly run into each other outside the cemetery, strike up a relationship, and find healing with each other. The surprising part of the story for me was the old woman. The parts of the story through her eyes, both the meanness and kindness of strangers, spoke the most to me.
I wanted to love this story, and parts of it were good, but as a whole the writing fell a little flat to me, and the bad language was off-putting..
Genre: Secular fiction
Objectionable elements: A plethora of damns, one occurrence of the “f” word, a night of adultery described as beautiful.
My rating: 5 out of 10
(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)