From Publishers Weekly
Esther Bolick, mayor of Karon's beloved make-believe Mitford, bakes a marmalade cake for Christmas that is as sweet as her hometown. Her story, Esther's Gift, and The Mitford Snowmen--"both included in this holiday collection--are previously published, stocking stuffer--sized narratives that Karon's fans have mostly likely already consumed with zeal, but the title novel is fresh entertainment that Mitford aficionados can enjoy while they do their own holiday baking. Sounding like Santa himself might, reader McDonough rumbles out these cheery tales, using dramatic pauses, lilting character voices and, at times, simple a cappella renditions of hymns to convey the upbeat innocence of the town and its residents. Choir music by Journey of the Soul fills the gaps between the novel and short stories, soaring as high as listeners' emotions will when Father Tim presents a restored nativity scene to his wife, Cynthia, on Christmas Eve. Though this audio production may be too cloying for some listeners, others will be buoyed by McDonough's jovial narration and the novel's inspirational themes.
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From the Inside Flap
Since he was a boy growing up in Mississippi, Father Tim has lived what he calls "the life of the mind." Except for cooking and gardening and washing his dog, he never learned to savor the work of his hands. And then he finds a derelict nativity scene--twenty figures, including a flock of sheep, that have suffered the indignities of time and neglect.
Could he give the small company new life? Restore the camel's ear, repaint every piece, replace a missing nose on a wise man? "You can't teach an old dog new tricks!" he reminds himself. It's when he imagines the excitement in Cynthia's eyes that he steps up to the plate--and begins a small journey of faith that touches everyone around him.
The eight novel in the bestselling Mitford Years series is a mediation on the best of all presents--the gift of one's heart. Lovingly written and beautifully illustrated, it seeks to restore the true Christmas spirit and give everyone a seat at Mitford's holiday table.