For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”
A Christmas Carol
12 Days at Bleakly Manor
This Christmas story, sure to one day be a classic, kept me intrigued right up until the end. What a great Christmas movie this would make with its blend of quirky characters! Names that almost seemed to be made up by the characters themselves had me chuckling. Names like Miss Scurry, Mr. Minnow, Inspector Pocket, Mademoiselle Pretents, and Mr. Tallgrass. Each were at Bleakly Manor by invitation and a promise of 500 pounds if they stuck it out for 12 days. After all were assembled including Clara Chapman and Ben Lane, the butler announced that only one would be receiving the monetary award, the last one left in the manor. Like on a game show almost, accidents kept happening, one by one numbers dwindled as some left. For such a fine manor, heat was scarce, and food was almost non-existent, and what little was served was very undesirable. The mystery of who the host was and the feeling of eyes staring wherever they went kept an eerie feeling about the rooms. I found myself holding my breath many times as strange and unexplained things began to happen. This was my kind of Christmas story!
A Tale of Two Hearts
We are in 1855 London and Mina Scott works with her father in his Inn serving ale and various other tasks. She tries to find a few minutes here and there in her dreary life to read from borrowed books loaned by a friend. She loves living in her made up dream world every chance she gets.
When her secret crush, William Barlow, offers her an opportunity, although only temporary to escape and "be a real lady", she jumps at the chance. As she and William get more and more entangled in deception, they find it harder and harder to come clean.
The story was enjoyable and heartwarming. I was drawn to the characters almost immediately, except for a couple of "villains" that came into focus a few chapters in. This was a pleasant way to get into the holiday spirit and start celebrating the Lord's Birthday a little early.
The Old Lace Shop
Bella White was a very lovable character. I felt for her eight years in an abusive marriage. She is a very compassionate woman for those less fortunate and downtrodden. She also vows to be independent of men after her husband passes away. She sells all her husband’s holdings except for one, Nottingham Lace and Hose. She has fifty one percent possession of this company and decides she wants to move, learn about the manufacturer of lace, and be an active partner. Edmund Archer, the other part owner, is struggling to keep the business going. He is shocked to learn of Mrs. White’s intentions. Women are just not seen working in such a position. How do they make this work?
One of the quotes from the book that caught my attention: “Either your faith will move mountains, or your doubt will create them.”
One item that shows up in each of these stories is a well worn second chance gold coin. I love the meaning of it and who and why it’s given to in these novellas.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.