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Giovanni's Light: The Story of a Town Where Time Stopped for Christmas Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 22, 2002


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (October 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743244338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743244336
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,151,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A pre-Christmas blizzard alters the emotional and physical landscape of the idyllic village of Ryland Falls in this well-crafted holiday parable. Theroux (Serefina Under the Circumstances) introduces characters at a sprightly pace throughout the brief book, but there are three central figures: Giovanni, a mountain recluse who ventures into town once a year to sell Christmas trees; a frustrated part-time art teacher named Will Campbell; and plucky 11-year-old Miranda Bridgeman, who wants to be a writer. The event that unites them is the snowstorm, which begins by providing some Yuletide ambience before turning into an epic event that buries the town and leaves everyone without power. The residents must reform their rather blas‚ approach to the holidays as they unite to help one another through the tough weather. Theroux gets syrupy with some of the village background and character introductions, but she makes up for the treacle with a nice sense of pace as she weaves together different layers of the story. She also shows a light touch with the various uplifting messages encapsulated in the subplots. Too many writers have to resort to miracles and angels to create their holiday magic, but Theroux wisely relies on the basics of human interaction to deliver her message in this nostalgic, illuminating fable. Illus.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Nothing evokes Christmas like a good old-fashioned holiday yarn. Theroux's tribute to the Yuletide spirit takes place in the seemingly idyllic town of Ryland Falls, which, despite its storybook perfection, contains more than the requisite number of cracked hearts. As the twenty-fifth of December approaches, no one can seem to muster up the usual Christmas spirit. Christmas merchandise languishes on store shelves and carols remain unsung. Taking the village by surprise, a harsh blizzard strands natives and visitors with nothing but the promise of a miracle to keep them warm. On a dark Christmas night, lives are permanently altered as an emotionally neglected little boy, an aloof father, a bored adolescent, a spiritually undernourished artist, and a retired schoolteacher are drawn by the light of a bonfire kindled by a lonely mountain man. This heartwarming little fable will appeal to Christmas enthusiasts of all ages. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Phyllis Theroux is an essayist, columnist, teacher and author. She is the critically acclaimed author of "California and Other States of Grace", a memoir, two collections of essays, "Peripheral Visions" and "Nightlights: Bedtime Stories for Parents in the Dark", an anthology, "The Book of Eulogies", and a children's book, "Serefina Under the Circumstances". In 2002, a novella, "Giovanni's Light", was published at Christmas. Her newest book, "The Journal Keeper: A Memoir", will be published by Grove Atlantic in March 2010.

A contributing essayist on the "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" from 1992 - 1996, Theroux's columns, op-ed pieces, reviews and feature stories have appeared in various newspapers including The New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and International Herald Tribune. In the l980's, she was a monthly columnist for Parents Magazine. In the l990's she wrote a monthly column for House Beautiful. Her essays continue to be anthologized in numerous collections.

Following the publication of "The Book of Eulogies" in l997, Theroux created "The Great American Portraits Program", which was sponsored by the Library of Congress and toured various cities in the United States. She has been a guest professor and lecturer at numerous forums, colleges and universities.

The founder of Nightwriters, which conducts writing and creativity seminars in the United States and abroad, Theroux occasionally conducts one-on-one editorial seminars with individual writers who come to spend time working in her writer's cottage in Ashland, Virginia.

A community activist and educator, in 1989, she formed a non-profit organization, "Winners in Grade School", to attract grants and support an inner-city Washington, D. C. elementary school where she taught creative writing to fifth graders between 1989 - 1993. During that time she created a consortium of private schools to be partners in education with the school.

A graduate of Manhattanville College, with a B.A. in Philosophy, she lives with her husband, Ragan Phillips, in Ashland, Virginia.

Customer Reviews

This is a novella - easy to read in one sitting.
Patrice Fagnant-macarthur
A beautifully written, engrossing story of Christmas in a small town where a heavy snowstorm changed the course of events and the lives of many.
Joyce W. Sackett
This book is a deceptively simple tale of Christmas in a quaint little town.
Sylvia-Butch Burton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There's nothing wrong with watching "It's a Wonderful Life" every year to get in the Christmas mood, but wouldn't it be nice to hear another story, one that's as authentic and uplifting? "Giovanni's Light" is that story. When I read this book, I had to get up from the chair every now and then to dance around the room. Warm, funny, and smart, the story never hits a false note -- which is all too rare in holiday literature. "Giovanni's Light" will remind you that all the ordinary stuff in life holds extraordinary promise, if we will just open our hearts and minds. This Christmas, the gift book for friends I cherish most is "Giovanni's Light."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Leaving my cold weather roots with the outside temperature at 70, I never dreamed I'd be able to be deliciously snowed in for the holidays cozying up for a fresh winter storm so vividly brought back to life in "Giovanni's Light". Holed up with me, to my delight, were Ms. Theroux's richly endearing cast of characters who one by one are given the chance to revisit the essence of the holiday spirit. I was at home in Ryland Falls eagerly awaiting each turn of events. A great solo read but just as much a wonderful family read-a-loud. It allowed my sun-bathed clan to experience the magic and wonder of a Christmas where nature's snowy blanket sets the town residents on a new course. A warm glow of a book I have continued to buy more copies to pass on to frenzied, frazzled friends who are all begging to find a way to slow down and experience the true gifts of the holidays. "Giovanni's Light" is just the answer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This new Christmas story reads like a classic. I didn't think they made 'em like this anymore, but Giovanni's Light feels like a book we've known and loved forever. The story is set in Ryland Falls, a charming small town "that made people sigh and imagine happy things that had never happened to them". But this Christmas, everyone in Ryland Falls has lost their enthusiasm for the holiday. Theroux tells the stories of several townspeople along with that of Giovanni, who comes to town each year to sell his Christmas trees. It's a lovely book that you could give to your grandmother or you Goddaughter. This is the book you'll want to curl up with on Christmas afternoon, when all the holiday commotion is over. It's a delight.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Giovanni's Light is a gentle masterpiece. Phyllis writes with a softness and grace and invites you into a world of simplicity and peace. Her ability to see inside the mind and heart of a child is a gift. As I read, I felt myself slowing down and enjoying the people and beauty of Ryland Falls as if they were my own neighbors. Reading it is like spending an hour in a snow storm curled up beside a warm fireplace.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jeanne-scott on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
What does it take for some people to stop their harried pace and take a look at their lives and then, to put a better perspective on what is important and what can wait? In this case it takes a blizzard to force people's lives to a slow crawl and give them the precious gift of time, to clearly see what is taking place in their lives that needs to be re-examined and fine tuned. This is a beautiful, thoughtful tale that encourages you to adjust your priorities to those with real value before something "big" or even tragic has to happen to force you to do so. Phyllis Theroux wisely shows that time is a priceless gift and that to live a fuller, richer life, time should be spent wisely, not nickled and dimed away.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Grissim on December 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When I finished reading this absolute gem of a book, I was astonished to find myself sitting there, feeling my heart chakra open, and on the verge of shedding tears of joy. This is one of those small rare treasures of literature that quietly opens the readerÕs heart and lets in a gentle flood of light and warmth and love. A short story written with a deft touch and without a shred of pretense or saccarine embellishment, GiovianniÕs Light displays the effortless mastery of the craft, evoking Guy DeMaupassantÕs classic explorations of life and the human heart. Take time to savour every word. Phyllis Theroux has truly written one for the ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrice Fagnant-macarthur VINE VOICE on February 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Giovanni's Light" by Phyllis Theroux is a classic Christmas story - a light to give warmth on a cold winter's day. The town of Ryland Falls comes straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting - it is a place just about everyone would like to escape to. Things have always been done a certain way, and people play their roles in that tradition willingly. Except for one year when it all goes wrong.

Under the surface of that perfect world, the pain of living is taking hold and winning the battle. As Theroux writes of the tipping point: "A crack in the heart of an eight-year-old boy is not a very noticeable thing on earth. For one thing, there are so many eight-year-olds. For another, most of them have a rather small vocabulary. They don't have the words to call attention to their condition. But in that other place where all cracked, broken, lost, and hardened hearts are recorded, it was noticed right away. And when Neddie Crimmins's heart was placed gently upon the scale with all the other damaged hearts in Ryland Falls, it was considered one heart too many.

When snow starts falling and falling and falling some more until the whole town is snowed in, miracles start to happen and the good in human nature begins to shine through. This is a novella - easy to read in one sitting. It is a perfect family story - both children and adults will enjoy and benefit from it. It would be a splendid addition to your Christmas season.
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