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

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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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
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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: #2,342,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every year I come back to this book. It gets cold outside, I set this on the end table, pick it up when the day is dark and stormy and it is like walking into the glow of a lamp.

"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."
~Phyllis Theroux, Giovanni's Light

One of my all-time favorites for Christmas...or anytime the heart needs to listen.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Giovanni's Light
I was so disappointed with this Phyllis Theroux book as I'd read her memoir excerpts and enjoyed it so much! It was like a magazine article or short story as the characters weren't developed in full and the story itself was so predictable. Couldn't believe it was offered in digital form for the exorbitant price of $13.99! The book was 2% over before starting the first chapter. Very, very disappointing. When I buy a book I want to read a book, not a short story.
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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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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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