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Mr. Ives' Christmas Paperback – December 23, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (December 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060927542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060927547
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The signal event of this novel?the shooting of the protagonist's son?is announced early, and the rest of the book is imbued with a melancholy only occasionally illuminated by spiritual revelation or insight. Edward Ives is a foundling, adopted by a widowed print shop manager and raised uneventfully in an idyllic?though Depression-era?New York City of egg creams, stickball and melting-pot color. Ives's dark looks and his father's long history of working amiably with Cuban pressmen incline him toward a sympathy with Hispanics and their culture, which conveniently anchors Hijuelos in a world he knows well. As a child, Ives shows a penchant for drawing, and he meets his future wife, Annie MacGuire, in a class at the Art Students League. Their first child, Robert (or Roberto), born in 1950, is murdered at age 17 on the streets of New York by a Puerto Rican teenager. The case is celebrated?Robert had just decided to enter the priesthood and was killed for a measly $10; by his side was found a shopping bag full of record albums?Christmas presents carefully chosen for each member of his family. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Hijuelos showed he can sharply evoke a vibrant, multicultural New York, capturing its music, its menace and its smell. Here, however, every storefront is darkened by the grief of Edward Ives, and every note is tamped. It is as if the lovelorn Nestor of Mambo Kings has returned from the dead to play his sad arias in a world?and a book?absent his lively, spirited brother, Cesar. The author's attempts to render all this as a Dickensian tale of redemption through dignified suffering?Dickens is invoked more than a dozen times?are crude and work no wonders. Not even a long-foreshadowed and deferred meeting at the end of the book between Ives and his son's murderer helps: "Nothing monumental transpired. Niceties were exchanged." Same for the book. BOMC selection; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

For Edward Ives, a graphic artist employed by a Madison Avenue advertising firm, Christmas has always been an emotionally charged holiday. It was during the Christmas season that Edward's foster father first visited him at the foundling home, and at Christmas a few years later Edward was finally adopted. Ives met his wife at an art students' Christmas party, and-most importantly-it was during the 1967 Christmas season that Ives's 17-year-old son was senselessly gunned down as he left choir practice. Ives has never fully recovered from the killing, and his unshakable depression threatens to destroy his marriage, as does his strange obsession with rehabilitating the murderer. It is significant that Mr. Ives's most prized possession is a signed edition of Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Hijuelos, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of Cuban exile, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, breathes new life into the Victorian Christmas genre. Highly recommended.
--Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

OSCAR HIJUELOS, the son of Cuban immigrants, is a recipient of the Rome Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His seven novels have been translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in New York City and spends part of the year in Durham, North Carolina, where he teaches at Duke University.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 31 customer reviews
This is not a sugar-coated tale, but a real story of Christian love in our world.
Dan DeCoursey
It is in the Christian world of the spiritually-minded Ed Ives that the struggle to embrace good in a world stained with evil is ultimately won.
michael jennings
A profound, moving, nearly perfect piece from one of America's most gifted, beautiful writers.
"mjk32"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's a diamond that cuts into the great spiritual wasteland. Oscar Hijuelos nails the virtues of moral truths and redemption of love, forgiveness, compassion -- those simple selfless qualities that our world considers trite. He does it through an amazing story of a quiet, humble man whose deep faith inspired: Ed Ives. This book is among my top favorites ever. I laughed, cried (blubbered while reading parts to my wife, actually) . . .
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By michael jennings on January 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ed Ives is of an unknown origin. His search for an identity and an understanding of life beyond his present situation prompts him to explore the world. While he does not find what he is looking for a series of mystical experiences provide him with what he needs. The needless murder of his son Robert shakes his life and marriage like a great and devestating earthquake. He is forced to make sense of his world in light of this travesty. It is here that the carefully woven Christmas motif of author Oscar Hijuelos emerges with its spiritual splendor. Christmas operates like an epiphany in the life of Mr. Ives. It serves as a reaffirmation of the goodness that inherently exists in this often dark world. It is a testimony to all that is of worth to a life in search of meaning. It is also the occasion of Ed's superhuman forgiveness of his son's killer. This is a marvelous book of tracing a life's movement against the current of despair. It is in the Christian world of the spiritually-minded Ed Ives that the struggle to embrace good in a world stained with evil is ultimately won.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dan DeCoursey on May 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am willing to bet that, many years from now, Oscar Hijuelos will be remembered almost entirely for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, his admiring tribute to 1950's mambo-crazed New York. I am not a gambler, but the critical praise and popularity of this novel tilts the odds in my favor. A less sure bet, and one that I'm more tempted to make, is that Mr. Ives' Christmas will endure as a favorite among Hijuelos fans. At least, I hope this quiet, slim, touching novel endures.
At a time when the Christian right flexes its intolerance at Bob Jones University and Jerry Falwell's pulpit, this novel of Christian love and hope reminds us of those who quietly abide by these virtues. As he does with the central characters of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Hijuelos walks us through the entire life of Mr. Ives, a man who humbly lives in his apartment in New York, who marries for love, and who nurtures a joyful family. At a time when many middle-class families are flocking to the suburbs, Mr. Ives savors the diversity of his Manhattan neighborhood. When tragedy strikes, his faith enables him to forgive.
Mr. Ives' Christmas is a rich novel, not simply because it enlivens Christian virtues, but because in doing so, it tackles our contemporary struggles with issues of race, class, and gender. This is not a sugar-coated tale, but a real story of Christian love in our world.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "mjk32" on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Yes, Hijuelos won the Pulitzer for Mambo Kings. Mambo Kings deserved two Pulitzers: it was excellent. But Mr. Ives Christmas exists on a different level; it's among the best books written in the past twenty years. Hijuelos' style is lyrically exquisite, his tone soft and measured, his insight is startling and poignant. A profound, moving, nearly perfect piece from one of America's most gifted, beautiful writers. Takes the best of American realism and dips it into latin magic to produce Hijuelos' best book by far - a book that every human being should read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on May 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Mr. Ives Christmas" is about a faithful man whose teenage son is cruelly murdered at Christmastime. It's a stunning story about religious faith. Hijuelos takes things of the spirit very seriously, and sacred events indeed occur in the novel. It climaxes with a series of epiphanies, in the very literal sense of that word. Hijuelos makes frequent fitting reference to Dickens and "A Christmas Carol" because his story is about the tragedies of life, but also the grace of God that is available to "those that are good." I finished this novel at 3 a.m., in tears. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on October 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
When MR IVES' CHRISTMAS was first published, I read the book in just about one sitting, promptly purchased a number of copies of the book, and gave it as a Christmas gift to close friends and family. I still find myself buying multiple copies of the book as presents. The book tells the story of Edward Ives, a character Hijuelos has lovingly created. Ives' life is a mixture of joy and tragedy. Christmas is significant in this novel since many of the joyous events in Ives' life happen at Christmas, yet it is ironic that many of the tragic events of Ives' life dovetail the Christmas too. Immediately the reader connects with Ives. He deserves his wonderful wife and his model son. Ives' world is turned upside down when his son, who longs to be a priest, is killed in a senseless act of violence. Ives' becomes obsessed with reforming the young man who murdered his son. The book could easily be cliché. He is a firm believing Catholic, but he is no saint. He is a wonderful husband, but his marriage is troubled at various points. He wants to reform his son's killer, but he is also tormented by depression and loss.
The book is not necessarily a heart warming book. The Christmas story does not magically transform the events that have taken place in the book, but Ives' belief in, and questioning of the miracle behind the Christmas story is perhaps what makes the book so complex. The faith of Edward Ives is real and lived. The book does demonstrate, through a memorable and likable Edward Ives, the pivotal role that faith can play in a person's life, and how faith helps us cope and live rather than understand all the answers to life's questions.
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