#12 Books of Christmas - A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
Welcome to Day 10 of #12 Books of Christmas
Missed any? I've listed them for you below.
Day 1 - Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Day 2 - The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Day 3 - The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
Day 4 - Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
Day 5 - The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater
Day 6 - Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Day 7 - A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan
Day 8 - Village Christmas by Miss Read
Day 9 - The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
This Christmas please do spare a thought for my very dear husband. Christmas always makes me slightly emotional thinking of loved ones, the tree, heartwarming films and all the feel good stories at this time of year. When you pair this a lot of sugar, life becomes a rollercoaster of emotion. And my lovely husband always mops me up. This book really embodies that. It is the most wonderful heart-warming story that in the space of 10 minutes had me sobbing one moment and hooting with laughter the next.
Oswald T. Campbell is told that if he remains in Chicago in the winter it will be his last. He is advised to move to a warmer climate and after spotting a brochure about Alabama, decides to move to the town of Lost River. Once there, and convinced that he is due to live out his days as a lonely old man, he is quickly embraced by the community. All of which seem to be lost souls themselves. There is his landlady Betty, who was in the army for most of her life and sleeps in the under stairs cupboard; Roy, the shopkeeper, mourning his one true love who was forced by her family to marry another man and Patsy, a neglected crippled child, dumped on a woman who cares little for her. At the heart of this is Jack, a Red Cardinal bird, who after being injured as a chick is looked after by Roy at the store and is beloved by all. When Patsy's guardian lights out of Lost River, the community adopt her and with the help of Jack, Patsy begins to have a full and happy life. The residents arrange for medical treatment to correct her leg, but then tragedy strikes. The story ends at Christmas with a true miracle.
Spoiler alert, I'm going to give this novel 5 stars. It is just wonderful. The story telling and characterisation are simply sublime, with every minute and witty detail portrayed beautifully. There are feuds, a bride left at the altar, a secret society made up of the older ladies, in competition with another secret society of equally old ladies. At the heart of all this are Oswald, Patsy and Jack. For Oswald, abandoned as a child at an orphanage with a tin of Campbell's soup, feels a sense of disappointment with his life. But it is in Lost River that he finds his family. Patsy is delightful - sweet and uncomplaining and her bond with Jack is truly heart-warming.
There are so many stand out moments in the novel, but my favourite is when Mildred confronts the man who left her at the altar. I had tears pouring down my face with laughter. But it is Fannie Flagg's inbuilt talent as a storyteller that shines. She makes us fall in love with Lost River, its landscape, the beautiful wildlife and those sunsets. I found myself taking the cast of characters into my heart - sweet Roy, Frances, Claude the fishing loving postman and the comical ladies of the secret society. All are keenly observed and wonderfully painted.
This story is a real rollercoaster, at times it will destroy you, but then lift you up. Ultimately it will make you laugh and feel a sense of warmth and humanity. I would recommend having a box of tissues close by. But you will finish the novel with a glow in your heart and a renewed belief in miracles.