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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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on December 24, 2005
I received this book as a pre-Christmas book many years ago and have just finished reading it for maybe the fifth time just before Christmas. It is a very quick and engaging read.

The Christmas Letters recounts all of the bittersweet memories that surround Christmas. It is not necessarily all happy, but it is all very real. Maybe as I get older, the pathos of Christmas becomes more real - both the sadness associated with memories of the past which can no longer be recreated and the realization that we can only celebrate from that place where we currently live in our lives. When we are in good places, then Christmas is magical. When not, Christmas can be very difficult. Smith touches on both of these points.

I am a great fan of Lee Smith's books. I gave this one only 4 stars, but that is in relation to her other books. To me, her best is Fair and Tender Ladies, also written in letter form.

Christmas blessings to all.
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VINE VOICEon November 30, 2004
For the most part I liked this book. It's the story of one family told through three generations of Christmas Letters (well, two really, the third generation only writes one letter). Now, it was very difficult for me to get past the feeling of...'why is all this stuff being written in x-mas letters, shouldn't the family have already known about all this stuff? Wouldn't you tell your family these things as they happen?'.

I know it was necessary to include these things in order for the reader to understand everything that's gone on in the family over the years, but it was very distracting. This said, I think this book would have been much better if it were formatted as a regular novel, not in Christmas letters. I believe it would have been a very interesting read.

But regardless, the story itself was good. It kept me turning the pages. I really enjoyed the second to last letter, where Mary (the second generation) sends out the REAL Christmas letter, not the superficial one that everyone gets saying all is peachy-keen and life couldn't be more perfect, blah, blah, blah. This letter tells us the 'good stuff'. I recommend this book as a very quick little Christmas read. It'll help you get into the Christmas spirit.
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on February 4, 2013
I will miss hearing about the lives of the women who wrote the Christmas letters in this book. I felt I had come to know them. The letters were sent to various recipients, which differed from year to year, so the content of each letter was chosen accordingly by its writer. Some items in the letters seemed to be included to remind the writer of experiences she did not want to forget.

My only complaint about this Kindle version is that the cover of the book as it appears in my carousel has NO WORDS at all. It has only an off-white linen appearance. Could I re-order this book at no charge and have it delivered to my Kindle with a cover that looks like the one pictured on this web site?
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on February 3, 2014
Everything she writes tugs my heart strings. This little novella follows 3 generations of strong women through their own hard times, and draws parallels to each other. The Christmas letter is a tradition carried on by the daughter to tell what is happening In their lives and share a recipe or two. What the reader gets is a multi-color photograph of their intimate take on life and their surprise at how smart and brave their mothers were. A really good "we are women too" kind of book. Lee always makes me cry with joy. Loved it!
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on March 19, 2014
Loved the generational changes. How quickly our lives change
in each generation. Gave me much insight between my Grandmothers growing up years, My Mom's mine,
my childrens and now my grandchildrens. Our thoughts are the same but we deal with life so differently.
What changes in our minds, traditions and mores. Not bad but sooo different. Well done.
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on December 21, 2012
I'm not usually a fan of epistolaries, and I agree with some of the reviews that point out, rightfully so, that relatives living in adjoining states would not need a Christmas letter to fill them in on important family events. That said, I give this author full credit for having written a novella that captivated me, more so for what I could read between the lines of those letters than for what was actually said. This is not a Christmas story, per se, but it is a delightful recording of the events that shaped family members and, perhaps, even eras in this country. This is one of those books that I'll plan on reading again at some point in the future.
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on January 7, 2016
I thought this would be a good book to read over Christmas. It was interesting enough that I was able to finish it, but I wouldn't recommend it for a few reasons:

1) There is a lack of character development, so it was hard to really care about the women writing the letters or the family members they were writing about.
2) The time lapse between letters was too long (as in a decade or more at a time). This kind of ties in with #1 -- more letters/content to fill in the space would have helped with character development and connection for the reader.
3) Phrases like "I apologize for not sending a letter the last few years" and "my life is just so busy" got very repetitive and annoying. Realistically those probably are phrases contained in most Christmas letters written by women/mothers but, for me, it just got old. This also ties in with #2 -- if there had been more content to fill the spaces in between the letters, then every letter wouldn't have needed to start with one (or both) of those two phrases.
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on January 3, 2013
This is not the same quality work as so many of Lee Smith's novels. However, it was a fun read, and it was short enough to easily finish over the holdays. I have already recommended it to a few people.
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on January 6, 2013
This book is wonderful. It brings you from the very beginning of a marriage and through a divorce. You feel like you are actually living and feeling all the emotions throughout the years. Thanks for a great book!!
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on December 29, 2013
This is such a "real" insight into Christmas letters. They(proper Christmas letters, that is) tell all the good stuff that does not reflect the writer's true feelings. The letters in the book follow a family of 3 generations starting with what one wants all to know and celebrate their bright wonderful lives. Gradually the letters tell the whole story warts and all.

I have been an ardent fan of lee Smith for decades - and this more than lives up to my expectations of her writing. Highly recommended
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