After reading Pam’s engaging post on the difference between the Hallmark and written versions of Robin Jones Gunn’s Finding Father Christmas, the novella sounded so charming I had to look it up. I found it bound with its sequel, Engaging Father Christmas. I’ve enjoyed some of Robin’s Sisterchicks novels and I think maybe one or two others, so I was glad to read her again.
In Finding Father Christmas, Miranda Carson is a single working woman who grew up as the only child of a single actress. She knew nothing of her father: in fact, in her youngest years her mother told her fairy tales of how she came to her, so she didn’t think she even had a father. Miranda had an unconventional childhood hanging out around theaters while her mom practiced and performed, and they lived in cheap hotels. One day Miranda discovered an old blue velvet purse of her mother’s and opened it to find her birth certificate, a photo of a boy sitting on the lap of Santa Claus, and a playbill for The Tempest. From that time on, realizing that she had been deceived by her mother, she lost any love for fairy tales and vowed never to go to the theater again.
Miranda’s mother died when Miranda was 11, and she was taken in by a friend. When that friend died, Miranda falsified her age and struck out on her own, choosing an accounting career because numbers were more reliable than words.
But the longing to know her father caused her to take vacation time in England, where the photo in her mother’s purse had been taken. She only had the name of the photo studio and a street to go on, but arriving in the village of Carlton Heath, she entered a shop called the Tea Cosy and met its proprietors, Andrew and Katherine MacGregor, and started from there. Once she found the information she was looking for, she then had to decide the best way to deal with it.
I can’t say much more without revealing too much of the plot, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. The setting, the characters, Miranda’s journey all were every bit as charming as Pam made them sound. I very much appreciated that Robin was not afraid to deal specifically with Miranda’s spiritual journey as well: Miranda had little to no spiritual context and didn’t even realize her need of or longing for God as her Father until she encountered Him. In a day when so many Christian authors handle spiritual matters lightly (if at all) lest they come across as “preachy,” Robin proves that you can deal with them realistically and naturally within the context of the story. I loved the many literary references as well.
In Engaging Father Christmas, Miranda comes back in England for a visit about a year later. A romance blossomed with a man she met right at the end of the first story, and she’s hoping this visit will result in an engagement ring and the making of Carlton Heath her longed-for home. But her idyllic Christmas plans are threatened by serious obstacles.
One of my favorite passages occurs between crises as she views a beautiful nighttime scene:
Was everything around us more or less a fixed snapshot that alluded to a greater beauty? A deeper mystery? A hint of what was to come? How many unknown layers were there to life–to the eternal life that was hidden in Christ? What glorious surprises awaited us in the real land of which this earth was only a snapshot? Let heaven and nature sing…
These novellas were the perfect Christmas reads: clean, warm, lovely, and heart-stirring. There is a third in the series just out recently, Kissing Father Christmas. I’ll have to look out for that one next year.
Genre: Christian Christmas fiction
Objectionable elements: None.
My rating: 10 out of 10