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Christmas at Harrington's Hardcover – October 1, 2010
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From the Inside Flap
"Please, have a seat." Ms. Harrington gestured to a pair of black leather chairs across from her desk. "I'll cut to the chase because I'm sure your time is as valuable as mine."
Lena wasn't so sure, but she nodded then sat down, folding her hands in her lap.
"Cassidy seems to think that you've been sent here by angels or God or maybe even Santa Claus."
Lena blinked. "What?"
"She thinks you'd be perfect to play Mrs. Santa."
"I suppose it's that coat." Ms. Harrington frowned. "And the curly hair. And I guess you have the right sort of face too." Now she laughed. "But I'm also guessing that is not the sort of work you're looking for."
Lena was too dumbfounded to respond.
From the Back Cover
Sometimes the best gift is a second chance
Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret?
Reading Christmas at Harrington's, a story full of redemption and true holiday spirit, will be your newest Christmas tradition.
Top customer reviews
Lena is paroled from the pen with only the clothes on her back, $65 cash, & a one-way bus ticket to New Haven, MN. I found this author's stories irresistible after her book "The Christmas Bus" made its stop in my living room. She has warmth of spirit written into every story and a way of making the reader fall in love with her characters. "Christmas at Harrington's" is no exception.
Lena rolls into New Haven with a prearranged boardinghouse room and a job at a local department store, Harrington's. Unfortunately due to lackluster sales, the job is gone. The owner's child decides Lena is the perfect looking Mrs. Santa. But...can an ex-con, just released, former spouse of an un-ordained preacher, & living in the disreputable Miller House, pull off pretending to be Mrs. Santa? Here is a story that will touch your heart and then put your conscience to considering the plight of many who struggle with making it on a daily basis. Even readers with their own difficulty will discover hope from New Haven's less fortunate. Moira will spurn your spirit of caring and charity. Young Beth, Cassidy, & Jemima you will simply love.
Sam, a handsome widower lawyer secretly investigates Mrs. Santa's sordid history looking for truth. Over the scent of `coffee with real cream' and gingersnaps (Santa's real favorite cookie), I can smell a sequel--maybe a Lena romance by Easter?
One small negative is found. Carlson has Mrs. Santa reading from a library's Christmas book. Only the opening page and ending are revealed in this story. It begins: "'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the stable..." What a tease. Now I have to begin my search for a used copy of Carlson's kids' book "'Twas the Night: The Nativity Story" (2004).
My Christmas season is already blessed by reading "Christmas at Harrington's" early.
With very little funds, poor clothes, no friends, Lena arrives by bus in that small town. But she meets a friendly older woman on the bus, Moira, who has a caring heart. Through sheer determination, Lena lands a job at the town’s struggling department store, Harrington’s. As what? MRS. SANTA CLAUS! A most intriguing situation that leads to some new friends, young and old, rewards – and dangers.
I cheered for Lena as she faces one challenge after another to the point she’s ready to give up. But God is leading her, even though she’s not quite ready to acknowledge Him. So how will the true Christmas spirit break through and lead to redemption? If you’re like me, you’ll be warmed by this story. Lena shows self-reliance and resilience. I would’ve liked more development of her relationship with the town lawyer, a widower, and with the two young children that come into Lena’s life. But – still, I found the book very satisfying and uplifting. I’m also glad to get acquainted with the writer, who has over 200 books to her credit.
Everyone needs a second chance without strings attached, unfortunately that is easier said than done. Lena is an example of the saying "bad things happen to good people". Having to start over again is never easy, but having to start over with no support system takes courage and blind faith. This story affirms that people by nature are reluctant to accept the kindness of strangers, to believe that there is good in the hearts of others expecting nothing in return.
This group of characters needed to allow themselves to accept the kindness, to be honest with themselves and to realize that love, trust and the truth is what matters most. If you believe in yourself others will believe in you.
Christmas at Harrington's is that kind of book, from a chance meeting on a bus to becoming friends with Moira Phillips, Lena Markham is starting her life over from nothing. With the promise of a job after being released from jail, Lena goes to Harrington's department store but there are no jobs available - until the owners daughter insists that Lena become Mrs. Santa Claus and start a new trend for Christmas. Surprising successful Lena has hopes that her new life will become more than she could ever want. Helping another young mother as someone has helped her Lena realizes that God is part of everything even a new start.
I'm come to love Melody Carlson and her books are inspring, delightful and thought provoking. Definitely worth reading.